swimming and immortality

Summer in Maine is almost here. For me, that means swimming, whenever and wherever I can. Nothing can bring you back to nature, and to yourself, like swimming can. There’s good reason water and eternal life are so deeply intertwined in literature and religious texts. I would recommend a book, Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero, by Charles Sprawson, for a rare philosophical examination of swimming.

Imagine a muggy rainy day at a secluded lake. You can see the raindrop-pocked water through the pine trees as you make your way down the forest path. You undress at the water’s edge. You feel a thrill, maybe a tremble in your fingers. You’re innocent once more, childlike and pure. You want to wash off the dust of the world. There is only silence and the occasional call of a loon. No one around for miles. Just you and Nature, face to face. You enter the water and feel the brief intimation of immortality that Wordsworth spoke of. You’re being held gently and rocked, once again. You’ve come home.


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