On the Return to Wholeness


This week, I started getting up even earlier than usual to take a brief morning swim.

I normally dislike getting out of bed before 7:00 am. It doesn’t matter how many hours I’ve actually slept or whether I’m fully rested or not—my body’s circadian rhythms simply refuse to reset.

But this week, I’ve dragged myself out of bed and trudged to the community pool for ten or so laps in a rusty crawl.

It’s my way of making peace with my battered and exhausted body.

(Yes, part of my silence this last several weeks was caused by the onset of a series of middling ailments and one acute illness. )

Wading into waters that feel partly like a welcome wagon and partly like a wrestling match, I surrender myself to thirty minutes of buoyant struggle. The liquid holds me up—but it also slows me down. I teeter between the lucid calm engendered by the silence beneath the surface and the raw terror triggered by childhood memories of near drownings.  I swim slowly and gracelessly, my fingertips always just a foot away from the pool’s concrete edge. I end each lap with an outstretched hand—a clear sign that my body no longer believes in the myth of its invincibility.

I always cling for a few moments before I push off for the other side.

In a strange, atavistic way, these morning swims have become a ritualistic means to recovering wholeness. My relationship to yoga is so fraught with notions of identity, worth and esteem that I can’t trust it with my healing (at least not yet). The irony of this epiphany is both humbling and hilarious (and probably needs to be unpacked in another blog post altogether).

So, yes, I’m getting well: a little slowly and many times not at all surely. But I’m in a much, much better space now.

This is me clinging for a few moments before I push off for the other side.


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