Mark… For You
I waded out of the water and across the sand. The swim had been exhausting but I felt invigorated, unlike the weariness I had been feeling when I arrived. It was late afternoon and the sun was glinting like three large diamonds across the middle of the pond. They were perfectly lined up between where I was standing on the beach and Ice Fort Cove point. So dazzlingly bright I had turned and was standing with my back to the water.
Since the new swim regulations have been in effect at Walden there is a narrow stretch of sand where open water swimmers are asked to enter the water, so I often find other swimmers at the stone wall adjacent it. I found myself exchanging greetings with Mark. He was toweling his hair when we started chatting and he shared with me that the previous week he had finally made it all the way across to the other side. Despite his low key manner I sensed the pleasure this had given him. It’s always great to hear stories about what Walden gives to others in its community.
“Whenever I come here,” Mark continued “anything that’s bugging me seems to go away.”
I visualized the deep belly of Walden, our problems sinking into it and remaining submerged in the muddy floor. I thought of how I’d read that the largest lotus always rise out of the muddiest depths… I thought of how I experience not only a change in outlook from when I had start my swim to when I finish it, but the many times I had felt weak and overwhelmed and had thrown myself into the water, and how strong and powerful it had made me feel to surge forward into the waves as the wind pushed them into me. How I had faced some of the worst experiences I could remember, a horrendous divorce, the death of one of my children by swimming in Walden.
…When I am feeling overwhelmed by even the smallest things I immediately think about Walden and want to be in the middle of the pond…
Then Mark pointed out the sparkling diamonds extending across the middle of the pond as the sun lowered itself toward it and continued, saying what a magical place it was for him.
The previous day, after nine days of a migraine headache I had tentatively launched myself into Walden’s waters, at first feeling their cool caress against my skin and then worrying that as I swam and started to generate heat from the work I was doing, my head would rebel and I would have to turn and make for the shore. But even as I monitored it, the familiar thump stopped despite the regularity with which it had been beating for days and even when I struggled back up the beach after the swim, did not return. Not even when I strolled, not the leisurely stroll of an afternoon walk but a stroll due to the fact I was too tired to do otherwise, up the ramp and back to my car. Not even when I returned home to my sweet but noisy dog and the TV blaring. Not even when I sat down at my computer and caught up on email.
I didn’t tell Mark about the magic Walden had bestowed on me, but it had!