Twenty-four hours later, the gray landscape of yesterday was all blue skies and bright sun today. Edy, Catherine, Marcia, and I set off into the cool, clear water; Edy and Catherine with more gusto.
Marcia and I dawdled a bit and then chatted with Lizzy and Becky, who were just finishing their swim. Eventually, we glided out and swam toward the point. At first, the water was gently rippling, but soon it was flat and still. It’s beautiful when it’s like this; every glimpse of sky and water as I breathe is like a pastel painting, layers of color and light. Despite the beauty, the flat water isn’t my favorite to swim in. Without waves to jostle me around and mix things up, I start thinking about my stroke, trying to glide more or reach further, focusing on improvement. It’s like being in the pool in that way. It’s not quite as fun.
Soon, though, I forgot all about my stroke, because when we stopped at the point to check in, a big, shiny, slick seal head popped its head up. I surprised myself by calmly pointing it out to Marcia and then reaching for my phone to take a picture (unfortunately not a very good one).
In the past, I’ve always panicked when I’ve been this close to a seal, but today I felt no galloping heart, no constricted breathing, no urge to flee. It helped that Marcia was so calm. The seal looked at us curiously. We looked back. It disappeared and then reappeared closer and even then I stayed calm. We watched and talked and when it disappeared again, it didn’t pop back up.
We swam back and I marveled at myself; conquering my fears like a boss. I’m not sure I will ever be excited to get close to the wild creatures like Colleen is, or Edy who eagerly swam out to greet the seal that popped over to say hello during her birthday swim. I won’t be writing them poems à la Shanti. But maybe my days of frantic yelping and swimming furiously away (as if I could ever out swim a seal) are behind me. Yippee.