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Living The Dream In The Open Water

Courtesy of Hank Wise of Rocket Fish Swimming, Long Beach, California.

I’ve parked and locked my van. Backpack loaded, I’ve walked through the tunnel under Pacific Coast Highway to the beach and now, I’m looking out at the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. The day is a perfect weekday morning with warm sun and nearly windless, breathy offshore calm, virtually empty white sand beach except for a few keep-to-themselves joggers and scurrying sandpipers.

The beach has a reverent silence, quiet and perfect. It’s like an arena of a beach with the tall sandstone cliffs covered in native desert scrub on one side and a large grey-stone sheer cliff on the other.

An inconspicuously silent and sturdy white lifeguard truck with a yellow paddleboard racked on top rolls by and keeps going. Small, hollow shorebreak waves punctuate the silence as they clap down onto the wet sand, white water rushing and retreating back naturally. This is the backdrop scene in which my open water, immersive-communion-with-nature swim takes place.

I’ve connected to this beach, this clear water, these cliffs since I was young and now, in this moment, I am fortunate enough to be connecting to this scene again. This is a valued and honored moment in time. I quietly put on my prescription goggles – the windless, mid-morning sun warming my shirtless back. The day gets quieter, the sun shines brighter, the training swim meditation transition is quietly and peacefully beginning. I’m in it and simultaneously observing myself in the middle of this nature experience.

At the front of my mind, the pre-training swim is filled mindfulness and gratitude on this spectacularly glassy and gorgeous day. It seems almost too fortunate that my mind, body and spirit are all healthy and hearty enough to go and swim in this arena. It seems unlikely that my busy work and family schedule would allow for this special time and place amidst this gorgeous nature. And yet, with planning, there is a time and place for everything, and this moment has been planned and there is no guilt and no other place to be. Only here and now.

The cool shock of the water temperature is the standard welcome. The ocean surface texture is smooth and the uncommon commonness of the clarity of the water is remarkable. A small fish inspects my toes as I stand waist-deep and prepare to swim. Just here, on this beach and in this water, soon to be swimming for a few hours – shallow water, with a prime view of the sea floor – its rocks, shells, fish and endless sandlines. Recent and distant colorful and textured memories of swims and surfs here melt into the now. An orange fish swims above lush green gently waving sea grass rooted to a red and brown flat rock underneath.

I lose myself in this living swim dream, now and then checking my “progress” with my waterproof watch. I know where my 1/2 hour and hour marks are to be and I fuel up by drinking my fees once an hour. And then it is back to the dreamtime and quietly connecting to the infinite – experiencing with body, soul and spirit the godliness of nature, the immersed peace and quiet of a training swim on a sunny, clear water, small swell, windless morning on this white sand, timeless beach.

Additional dreams by open water swimmers are here.

Copyright © 2018 by Hank Wise

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