I love being under water. The weightlessness. All sounds fade away. My entire body is being touched all at once by the softness of the water. It’s such a strange feeling because when you are fully submerged, you don’t feel wet. It’s just comfort, like a warm cozy blanket. The few seconds of time that I am able to hold my breath are magnified because I feel completely present, completely at peace. All problems or cares cease to exist. Even though I may fear what is in the water or that I may step on something unknown, the feeling of being within the water is enough for me to take my chances. It is one of my favorite experiences.
This place reminds me of my childhood and the creek and lake that are in my old neighborhood. I spent so many summers swimming in that lake. I’ll never forget that I always had to keep moving or the fish would bite if I stood still for too long. My mother called me a fish because I would stay underwater for what seemed like an impossible amount of time for my little lungs. Like a ribbon in the wind, I would glide through the water just above the sand for as long as I could stand it. This was my escape from all my fears, an escape into what felt like a dream world. I could allow all my thoughts to come out in the silence. No one could see me there under the greenish-brown water.
I remember traversing the creeks on the other side of the subdivision. I always felt like it was undiscovered country. I would fearlessly walk through the creeks to explore the other side. It was so exciting and dangerous, or at least it felt like it at the time. When my mother and I hike in the mountains out West, I still feel that playfulness I had as a child. The two of us encourage one another to overcome our fears and head into the unknown. Decades later, it makes me happy to still carry those feelings and even more so when I let them out to play.
These were my thoughts as I walked along the wooden pathway. The water here is frozen and covered in hard, crunchy snow, yet something made me think of summer and what it’s like to play in the water. Everything is very still. Unmoving. Quiet. And eerie in a way. The dark tunnel only amplifies the eeriness. It is a far cry from the splashes and squeals of summertime. My footsteps on the cold bridge now sound off their echo. The noise within the hollowness is a bit of a comfort now. It’s funny how silence can be scary at times. Like there is nothing to ground us, nothing to make us know that we exist. Or maybe it is the fear of our mind being left to its own devices. If there is no noise, no distractions, we may hear something we do not want to hear. We may have to listen. Listen to what we already know but thus far have been successful at tuning it out.
Yes, that is what I am feeling. That is why this quietness frightens me. I don’t want to be by myself. I don’t want to listen with a clear head. It will require action. It will mean that I know and I can’t take that back. My steps begin to slow down. I do not want to come out into the open. What was once spooky and dark has now become a safe haven. I am hidden here. It is like being under the water and no one can see me. I stop. It feels like a stand-off now. Something out of the Wild West! How did I come to this? I was just thinking of happy childhood memories and now I am frozen in place. I know I am only facing myself. I know it is a more peaceful self. A happier self. Yet it is truly frightening.
I begin to pace now from side to side. It is colder here in the shade and I feel the need to move. There is an anxiety building in my chest and I am finding it hard to breathe. I start to talk to myself. I tell my self to calm down, that everything is OK. I force myself to take some deep breaths. Just then, as if whispered in my ear, I hear that I am safe. I am safe. These words come to me as a knowing. I already know that. I laugh a bit and smile. Of course, I am always safe for it’s just me. My soul, my guiding light that only ever wants what is best for me. The one that wants me to stop and listen more often. The one that tirelessly tries to show me and lead me towards my highest good. The wave of fear has left me now.
I take a deep breath and walk into the light. I will stand there and I will listen in the silence.
Photo courtesy of D. Campbell.