There is a story I like to tell about how I learned to swim. When I was maybe around 7 or 8 my family rented a summer house on a beautiful lake here in Upstate New York called Lake George. It was one of the best summers I can remember. Days were filled with beach time, park time and a general feeling of summer happiness.
Anyhow, at this time, I was not yet a swimmer or a fan of learning how to swim. This was not acceptable in my Dad's eyes. You see, he was a lifeguard when he was young and liked to relive the glory days of a public pool in an urban environment. So, on one of those hot summer days on the Lake, my Dad thought it would help me over the hurdle of learning how to swim by unceremoniously throwing me into the water. We were on the dock next to the beach area and before I knew it, he had picked me up and I was airborne. I remember hitting the water with a huge splash and somehow getting up from underwater. I was shocked, but it worked. From then on, I no longer feared the waster and was more than thrilled to learn how to swim.
As you might imagine, the water has always been a part of my fabric. Starting from my earliest memory of Cape Cod when I was terrified of the waves to my swimming baptism in Lake George, bodies of water have always been there. As mentioned, Lake George was our lake of choice growing up, though there were other lakes we would visit. But, when we were able to stuff the whole family into the green Chevy, it was off to the ocean. I remember the smell as we would get closer to the shore and hear the high pitched songs of the sea gulls, they were comforting sounds and smells to me, and still are to this very day.
A few years back when I was knee deep in divorce drama, I longed for comfort from the storm of attorneys and endless fights. As I do when life gets overwhelming, I envisioned being on a beach, watching the waves gently kiss the shore. Only this time, my mind's eye was unable to capture enough of the scene to ease my exhausted psyche.
So, I ran away from home. Well, drove really - yes I ran/drove away from home.
I was desperate for peace and quiet, so I went to where I knew I would find it - the water. This time I knew only the sweet salty air would rescue me. So, I packed a few things and off I went. I knew I made the right choice when, upon crossing the Bourne Bridge, I could feel the tension in my shoulders ease. I checked into a sleepy beachfront motel. Weary from the trip, I brought my bags up to my room, donned my swimsuit and headed out to the beach.
I was not prepared for what happened when I eased my way into the warm water of Nantucket Sound. As the waves gently undulated around me, I started to cry. Not an ugly cry, it was more like my emotions were pouring out anyway they could, tears included. I faced away from the beach, watching the waves enter the Sound to greet me, as if to say "it's ok to release your emotions to us". I silenetly thanked them for helping me breathe and find my happiness.
That was a crucial experience for me. Since then, I have repeated the same trip to the same place and I even stay in the same room. For me, it is more than a vacation , it is a necessary excursion in order to maintain my sanity in this crazy, definitely not sane life that I live.
So, if you are in Cape Cod and happen to see me float by, feel free to join me - perhaps you too could use a mental and spiritual reboot.