It was when I gave up racing in 2003, that swimming in what some might say was the worst of Walden became the most appealing to me.
Standing on the shore and feeling the wind in my face, and the sound of the waves rushing headlong onto the beach I knew the challenge ahead. Going out would be tough. As the water cooled, (the wind would get stronger as the fall progressed toward winter) it added another challenge.
Coming up for air and being splattered with a face full of stark cold water. Dodging mouthfuls as I breathed. Modifying the turn of the head to compensate for the swell. It looked so tame from the beach. (How do those ocean swimmers do it?) Yet once in the midst of it, it was at once in and around and on top and inside. Swirling winded water is disorienting when the head is goggled turning. Water splashing everywhere. Nothing static, eyes looking for horizontal where it does not exist.
This became the attraction in the fall of 2003 and into the winter of 2004.
Walden became a mirror for my stormy life. Navigating a marriage breakdown with three young children.
Swimming in the wind swirled water gave me an opportunity to live my inner experience, be my own witness of it. Taking that next breath, lifting my body and heaving my arm over it again and again though the waves were pushing me down and breaking my breath. Pushing through the force of water and wind to get back to the shore, to get back to the bus stop for the after school pick up, that made me strong. Knowing I could do that helped me know I could stand up to anything.
Walden gave me strength and made me know it.