Sunday morning swim at Walden. I didn’t make it out as early as I would have wanted, but it was just as beautiful. After my open swim, where I began at the pond’s edge and swam straight out into the open water, standing at the shore, I watched a strong swimmer, inside the roped off swim area close to shore. He was swimming laps. Back and forth.
There is this huge beautiful open space to swim, where one does not need to consider turning or going back and forth – there is an invitation to swim as far as you can without stopping, up to a mile. Yet, this strong swimmer chose to swim laps, five yards from shore; preferring to stay restricted. Did it feel safer? Was it easier to quantify the distance? Why so tamed?
How often in life do we choose the same kind of safety? When the challenge or opportunity of an open pond, a wide open opportunity to see how far you can go; instead do we choose to stay within our box? A safe place where we go back and forth instead of forward. Where we can touch down and feel the bottom below our feet, instead of going deep.
I felt a sort of sorry for the man. Sad, that he wouldn’t see the big invitation to the wide open. That he was stuck in the back and forth close to shore, safety. Sure, he was getting the same exercise, but was it the same? Where was freedom, risk, adventure?
He is perhaps home now, also drinking coffee and reflecting on his morning swim at Walden. Did he see me with my orange bubble, swimming out alone to an unforeseen end and think me foolish? Unsafe perhaps? And unable to truly measure how far I was going? Perhaps.