Updated: Mar 1
Recently I have been reading a fascinating book written by Wallace J. Nichols titled Blue Mind. It is a study of the emotional, behavioral, psychological and physical connections that humans have with water. It discusses research on evolution, economics, neuroplasticity, creativity, health and healing and our relationship with water.
I am now nearing the end of the book and although I have been able to relate to much of what he writes, what I read last night struck a real chord with how I feel when I swim, it is about connecting with nature.
During this chapter he quotes a psychologist called Abraham Maslow, he writes of what he has termed “peak experiences”, and describes these peak experiences as;
“A complete focus of attention; an absence of fear; a perception that life is good; a feeling of connection and even merging with the environment; feeling humbled by the experience and fortunate to have participated in it; a sense that time and space have altered and one is immersed in the present moment; a feeling that the experience is real, true and valuable; flashes of insight and emotions not experienced in daily life; and a realization of the meaningfulness of the experience and the significance for ones future life. When we access these states, we see ourselves not as separate but as “embedded” in our relationship with everything in the world; we are part of everything, and everything is part of us.”
This feeling that I am part of the natural world around me is always present as we work around the farm, being so close to the creatures and plants that we share this island with, but it is brought into sharp focus when I swim. Maybe this is because it is hard to feel anything other than part of the ocean when you are in it, it is an experience that totally encompasses your mind and body.
Today’s swim was a sign of the summer to come, the sun was hot and warmed my skin as I walked down the sandy track, bare shouldered, past South Hill towards the boat yard. There was a cool northerly breeze and so Green Bay was the sheltered choice. The boat yard boys were busy as they got punts, hire boats and sailing boats ready for the summer season.
I quickly dived in and swum away to the left, heading towards the quay. The water, fairly shallow, was a translucent green, deliciously cool and enticing. Sun beams rippled across the seabed and dancing rays of golden light and darker shadows played in the water. Yachts now cruise up and down the channel and little motor boats move around the bay. There felt like quite a strong tidal pull heading down towards the Brow and around the base of Samson Hill, so I decided to stick close to the shore and enjoy exploring waving forests of bladder wrack and limpet covered granite rocks.
Streams of silver bubbles flowed from my hands and dazzled me as I swum through them, the movement of light was enchanting. I was in this moment of “peak experience” that Maslow described.
Writing about my experiences of swimming and life on Bryher, gives me a further opportunity to reflect upon, enjoy those moments and to express the thoughts of pleasure that I get from being here. I often have “pinch me moments” and remember how lucky I am to be living here.