In the summer of 2021 I took up swimming. After surviving more than a year of the pandemic largely indoors, I was searching for a way to ground myself while moving my body in ways that did not shock it into awakening. As I entered the cool pool waters in June, I instantly felt they were giving me the breathing room I needed and didn’t know how to ask for.
As I swam several days each week I noticed the early summer clouds of Southern California that shadowed the water. I was captivated by their shapeless movement; as I swam on my back they followed my form. They refused to be contained, always becoming more themselves. A couple weeks in, after getting swim goggles, I noticed for the first time how the shadows of my distorted form played in the water. My shadow refused to be contained. My shape was as amorphous as the clouds above. They danced together.
The next day I brought my waterproof phone, which had promised to be sutbmergible for 10’ up to 15-minutes (it lied), to begin taking photos. First of the sky, then in the water. It was infinitely fascinating to watch my form move without my moving it, to be carried by the water. After a few days of this, and a new phone later, my actual underwater camera witnessed me spin and twirl and expand like a starfish in the deep end of the water. It was pure play.
Something ancient surfaced within me as I moved in the water, watching my own movement reflected back to me. I remembered later how the creation poem tells us the water came first; it was the palette for all existence. This mysterious liminal space of deep water is at the core of who we are as humans, which our biology has confirmed is more than a metaphor. We are air and water. It is good.