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26 Sep

The Swimmer

The first time that you do it, it’s like taking a long jump off of a short pier into unfamiliar waters.

Maybe it was something that you always wanted to do. Maybe you were enticed by the sight of all those other swimmers, out there in the water, swimming toward distant shores. Maybe you got too close to the end of the pier, and slipped. Somehow, you got in that water, and when you did, you didn’t know what to expect.

You didn’t know what to expect, and so you were surprised by how quickly the current moved, by how turbulent the waters could be, by how hard the waves pushed. But you put your head down, and swam and swam and swam toward the far-off shore, and sometimes you even enjoyed the cool of the water and the feeling that you had become, somehow, another being, another species, and the sweet freedom of just bobbing along when the waters were still, of taking the journey slowly, even as you yearned for its end.

And then you arrived, at your once-far-off shore, and you were new and life was new and you looked back across the waters and couldn’t believe how far you’d come, how distant was that pier.

You can’t even remember what it felt like to take that leap, what it felt like to hit that water.

But you do remember the long, long swim, and how it was sometimes dark and cold and turbulent and frightening. And so it took you a long time to jump back in. If you really did jump, that is. You were pretty close to the edge, so close that the jump was inevitable, but still. Maybe you slipped.

Now you’re in the water, and you know exactly what the long swim ahead feels like, you know all about the waves and the current and the cold and the fear and you’re scared. Happy, too, of course, and excited, to be pursuing this adventure again. But still, scared.

You take a deep breath, and plunge ahead. The shore awaits.

A shore worth reaching.