Updated: Mar 1, 2020
Writing and wild swimming lend themselves to each other. Wild water creates beauty, drama, serenity and words describe these beauties and wanders. The wellbeing that can be gained from each activity comes from similar experiences, both create a sense of personal space, to think, to clear the mind, to put thoughts to paper.
The Oxford English Dictionary states the etymological roots of the word “record” are “re” meaning again, and “cord” meaning heart. Gillie Bolton believes that the writer is their own first reader, so writing, in the first instance, is a private communication with the heart of the self, (Bolton, 2011 Write Yourself).
Wild swimming gives me a spiritual connection to nature and the beautiful and inspiring environment surrounding me. Water features in so many sayings and images used in life, the tides of change, going with the flow, either sink or swim and many, many more. Leonardo da Vinci said that water is the driving force of all nature. We seek great solace in water.
Unlike a drop of water which losses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man’s life is independent. He is born not for the development of his society alone, but for the development of his self. (B.R Ambedkar)
Wild waters can create such a powerful sense of emotion, and writing about those experiences continues that exploration of thoughts and feelings. Gillie Bolton goes on to say that humans are narrative-making creatures; creating stories is our way of making sense of things. Illness, bereavement and loss can disrupt understanding of life.
So I try to use Wild swimming, the beauty of Bryher and writing to discover, understand and ultimately attempt to develop a better “self”.
It takes a certain amount of self will and determination to get myself out into the water today. The sun is out and shining brightly but the wind is bitterly cold and biting. The spring showers when they blow in are harsh and unforgiving. The sea, down along Green Bay, gleams turquoise and silver, the breeze creating little dancing patches of shimmer, chasing across the water’s surface. I am chilled by the breeze and for a moment I am tempted to stay sitting on my rock in the sun. But I know how good that water will feel once in, so I join the gulls and the shimmering ripples and plunge out into the cool.
The highlight of the swim is a huge piece of kelp, dislodged and travelling in the tide, its copper brown, leathery straps flowing effortlessly like mermaid’s hair. I play with it, swirling it, enchanted by the movement and the mystery of the many stories of those sea beauties that could be imagined. My toes maybe freezing but my heart is glowing.