Charles | Day 037

“I come almost every day for a couple of things: I swim, I feed the crows, and I pick up a little bit of garbage - that's my personal commitment. I've been doing this for a couple of years with a few periods of a couple months of not doing it for reasons of not being well.

For me, getting into the ocean, sometimes it's difficult, and that's a part of it - that’s part of why I like to do it, because I have to push myself to do it.  So there's a sense of pride and accomplishment with that and there's also a facing of fears because I am afraid of...that [pointing offshore]. It’s vast, it’s huge, it’s dark, there are creatures - I think about sharks almost every time I’m in the water. It's crazy - I torture myself with these thoughts, of like, “Oh, a piece of seaweed...or is that a fin??”  It does me good, to face my fears, to know that the things that I fear usually don't come to pass. And when they occasionally do come to pass, I’ve survived it.  So this is instructive for me in that sense; but also in another sense: I’ve heard of water being described as symbolic of the emotions, the emotional body.  So for me, immersing myself in that, going in there and going deep into my emotions and coming out of it, there's something about that that I like. And then there's also a baptismal kind of a component to it, like a washing away of stuff, of purging that which isn't serving me. I don't always connect to that when I'm doing it - sometimes it's just like, you know, I grit my teeth, do it and get out.  But sometimes I've had, under the water, all of a sudden this moment of clarity about myself and my relationship with universe.  I’ve had some really beautiful experiences.

It seems trite to put it this way but the feeling as I walk out of the water is like, “I'm OK.” Whereas the feeling going in, that’s not the feeling. Where I’m struggling. I have mental illness - depression and a personality disorder - that makes life challenging at times. So to have that feeling as I walk out of the water, from something so simple and really brief, to be able walk out of the water and go, “You know what? I’m OK. Today is OK. Not everything is going my way, but I’m OK, I'm here and I'm doing this.” is a gift.

And physically, it feels great! Absolutely. I mean, sometimes the greatness is in the getting out! But, yeah, physically, it’s grounding too. That’s something else: It gets me somewhat out of my head and all my thoughts. I’m having a physical experience. And sometimes I'll even make a point of noticing the coldness and the sensation of the water moving over my body and that just leaves everything behind. It’s like: Here, now, is all that matters.”

advocate / explorer / storyteller