Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Mighbrow: The Swimmer

There's a wonderful book, 'Waterlog' by Roger Deakin where, inspired by John Cheever's short story 'The Swimmer', Deakin sets off on an adventure to swim across Britain. His plan was to swim rivers, dykes, lakes and tarns, even caves and whirlpools; and to engage in a whole range of 'Wild Swimming' experiences. He encounters much resistance; but asks: ramblers have rights; why not swimmers? 

To quote the book's cover, it is indeed a "delicious, cleansing, funny, wise and joyful book, so wonderfully full of energy and life." 
Deakin is eccentric but a real enthusiast and that energy is infectious. He's no longer with us but his writings remain to help lead us back to the joys of nature. 
Read also: 'Wildwood' and 'Notes from Walnut Tree Farm'.
I think that we've all experienced and acknowledged the restorative benefits to be taken from immersing ourselves in water. The wilder the setting and the more we expose ourselves, the more intoxicating the effect. I've taken many a knacker shriveling swim in rivers and rock pools in the Corsican mountains and then later made it back to the beach for a sunset swim in the day warm sea. 
I'm always left feeling reinvigorated, exuberant; refreshed and ready for the next adventure.

The Swimmer

The swimmer leaves the shore
To test his mortality

He is the sole, vital engine
His actions keep him alive
The alternative is unthinkable
But possible

His discomfort is self-imposed
A discipline to ward off
That prize possession of middle age

I shrink against the cold
Eyes sting
I do this to myself
Float then move my arms
Against the indifferent current

There is no disappointment
In the primitive simplicity of this moment
I must move to survive
And that begs the question
Do I need my life?

No wiser, but replenished, reassured
I turn my back to the kindling sun
And reach for the uncertain shore

No comments:

Post a Comment