Honestly Not Walden

When I am unable to get to Walden I hesitate to write. I cannot honestly tell you of Walden’s Wonders except to say she is never far from my mind even if she is from my body.

This afternoon I swam in a 50 meter outdoor pool in Sydney. The sky was blue, the sun which had been absent for days, actually for all the days since we arrived here had returned. The air temperature was 57 degrees. The pool, heated for the southern hemisphere winter, felt cool. The woman at the desk said 21 (degrees centigrade). My quick conversion told me that would make it 74 degrees fahrenheit. Not that cold, I thought, scampering out into the afternoon wrapped in a towel. It wasn’t long ago I remembered being told the temperature in Walden had been less than that.

How was it then, it felt so much colder?

Once I launched myself into the pool I didn’t stop. I couldn’t. I never did warm up enough to feel comfortable and there wasn’t the scenery to help distract me from the cold in my toes and the temperature gradient which startled me as I tumbled and turned after each fifty meters. There weren’t even many other swimmers in the pool (though there certainly are a lot of hardy and speedy swimmers in Australia). Perhaps they were all just otherwise occupied on a Saturday afternoon!

So I just kept swimming, chasing the sun as the shadow extended further into the fifty meters and it took me longer and longer to swim out if it. Until I realized I would have to stop but that would mean getting out of the pool in the shadow. By then I knew I was already cold.

That’s when I remembered all the swims in Walden I have had in cold water and all the times I have felt I my legs dragging and looked up to realize I am still somewhere in the middle of the pond and there is no way out except to keep going. That’s when I realized that this minute challenge, to stop and get out and run to the change room and a hot shower was nothing. And swimming in Walden has given me strength to endure more than that.

So I stopped and pushed myself up onto the pool deck, wondering how many other ways Walden has enriched my life and will continue to do so.


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