Deep down in the dark lies the very essence of my vulnerability. A complete surrender to the vast emptiness. To the rhythms of the water and the moods of its countless denizens. I am the self-invited guest and the ocean is my unwitting host.
I have a fascination with the open water. Its immensity, its fluidity. Its constant variability. An ever-changing organism swallowing the light, flowing away the second I touch it, hitting a new shoreline every day. Each moment is a unique interaction. Each moment is a privilege.
As the ocean wraps itself around me, it brings me closer to myself, closer to my fears of the infinite dark, the insidious cold and the monsters hiding in the inky depths underneath me. Paradoxically, it also brings me serenity. A calmness that helps me collect my thoughts. It’s just the sea and me. A submersion, a communion. No disturbance but the soothing effect of water on my skin. Nothing but plenty of time to dig deeper into my thoughts, to feel my breath and the life within. The ocean is an extension of my mind. My way of meditating.
The open water is wild, temperamental, unpredictable, and it fascinates me. Being totally submitted to the great forces of Mother Nature. To her whims. I find it both nerve-racking and intoxicating. Not knowing what day my crossing will start or at what time of the day. Not knowing how far I’ll be able to go or whether I’ll ever make it to the other shore. There are so many uncertainties to deal with. However well we prepare, whatever we invent to conquer the sea, Mother Nature surpasses the wonders of mechanics and has the very final say. It’s untameable. Bowing low is our only option.
Deep down in the dark, loneliness is outweighed by the excitement of furtive encounters with amazing creatures. I am an alien in a world of sensational life forms. A witness to breathtaking ballets performed by a spectacular wildlife and a mesmerizing flora in perfect harmony. A vivid aesthetics. Right under the surface. While on the other side, my team is keeping me safe and encouraging me when doubt and boredom strike along the way. Persistence is my tribute to their support. To their trust and dedication. They are my lifeline, my link between the potential dangers of the sea and the safety of the land.
Marathon swimming forces me to be part of something bigger than myself, to go beyond my personal fulfilment. Our group work, my dependence and the infinity of the ocean are a reminder of how minuscule I am. They teach me a lesson of respect and humility.
I’m not just in it for the title. I’m not in it for the medal or the tattoo. I’m in it for the beauty of the ocean, for the experiences and the love I am given. And in that lies the very essence of my fascination.