Most Valuable Thing (Day 14)

“This will be the most valuable thing I do today.” 

That was what Sheila texted our swim group chat after a swim last spring.

I was going to say “a particularly gorgeous swim,” but I don’t actually remember, and, truthfully, it might not have been an especially brilliant day. It’s the kind of thing any one of us might have said about any, ordinary, everyday swim. The kind of thing we have thought a dozen times since. 

Today, for instance. 

Today was one of those days where I never gained any traction. My brain couldn’t engage with writing, but neither could I find the motivation to do the millions of little tasks that need doing: the passports that need renewing; the bills that need paying; the library books that need returning. Nor could I muster up the energy to attack growing chaos infecting every nook and cranny of the house. 

In short, I had the blahs and spent hours feeling bad about everything I wasn’t accomplishing until I finally gave up on all of it and went for a swim. 

I was by myself and so I went to the Marina. There’s almost always someone swimming at the Marina and almost never any seals. If there isn’t another swimmer, there is sure to be someone learning to sail or windsurf, stand-up paddleboarding, or kayaking. I never feel alone at the Marina.

With two hours to go before low tide, it was already so low that getting into the water meant plunging my foot into muddy muck. I launched myself as quickly as possible, letting the cold seep into my bones, shortening my breath until I was acclimated; until I became part of the water.

Then I swam.

My inadequacies fell away with each stroke.

I was swimming on my back when cormorant whizzed by me and my list of to-dos and should-haves became the furthest thing from my mind. 

Back home I had more energy for some of the work, but swimming was definitely the best thing I did today. 

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