September not coming slow
I caught the pink eye that’s been going around the city lately. I saw a message about it last week on a group chat and immediately thought: thank god not me. Oh well, now me. My whole household actually. My dad got it first. What it’s meant for today is that a work commitment I had tonight got cancelled as did any other plans to socialize. It was a bit of a bummer, but it is what it is. I guess it gave me time to sit down and write something.
It’s always hard to think about writing, especially when seemingly important things are happening. You know, feeling like you’re in a season where lots is happening internally and externally and it’s too fast to make much sense of, so you just remain in the flow of what is.
Last weekend this flow ended up being rather terrifying, actually. I went to the beach, and as I always do at the beach, I went in for a swim with my friends. My memory of time is a little hazy now, but I know that at one point my friend gestured to me to swim to the left because the current was too strong towards the right. So I began to swim left; a smart move, I thought, because it’s recommended to swim perpendicular to the current. What I didn’t realize was that the current was moving right, and that I was wasting energy trying to swim. Before I knew it I was suddenly way further back than I intended to be, I was already kind of tired, and there were waves washing over me at what felt like relentless intervals - I realized later that I was in a riptide. The panic came all of a sudden. I’ve never felt so helpless in the ocean, or ever really.
I think that’s when I started to hyperventilate. A bad move because this only means more room for water to enter lungs. I felt like I was running out of breath. Soon I figured I should stop flailing my arms and legs so much and just conserve my energy and try to get someone’s attention. I was worried that no one could see me. In this time, my friend did in fact see me and swam towards me. Once he was within earshot and I had a second to breathe I called out ‘I need help’. Reflecting back on this is interesting - I’ve always prided myself on being somewhat independent and self-sufficient and able to do things on my own. I have rarely explicitly asked for help - perhaps partially because I felt I was above it, but mostly out of a desire not to be burdensome. Anyway, I needed help then and it had to be known.
He tried his best to be calm and talk me through it, even pushing me forward by my feet over the waves; it wasn’t working. He reminded me to breathe, reminded me I’m a yogi, but I could tell from the urgency in his voice that we were not in a safe situation. We did our best to ride the waves. In our need to see whether someone was coming to get us, our faces were turned away from the incoming waves and so they caught us off guard. They were continuing to push us further back. I forgot to mention that in all of this, I had taken my precious goggles off my head before being swept up and had them tightly gripped in my right hand the entire time. My priorities may need reevaluating. Anywho, soon we caught the lifeguard’s attention and that’s when it shifted from a matter of if to when. Once he was close he threw me his floatie and we eventually reached shore.
I have a tendency to make light of situations after they happen. I’ve had a conversation or two where the tone was more oh i almost drowned this weekend haha. But for a moment, a number of moments, I was really freaked out - that fight or flight adrenaline is something I had never felt before - it took my body perhaps 30-45 minutes to come down to a regular breathing pattern. I only learned yesterday, almost a week after the incident, that as my friend swam towards me he was playing out what he would tell my parents in case I didn’t make it.
I must admit I am quite glad to be alive. These days I’m inclined to spot the meaning in everything that happens to me - there's this sense of keeping my ‘head above water’, this sense that the incident last weekend could have gone two ways, this sense of having a choice but perhaps not control.
I went back in the water that day because my friends reminded me it’s best not to have that as my last experience of the ocean. Now, a week later I feel hesitant about stepping back in next time I go to the beach - not because of fear I think, rather a growing sense of respect and perhaps even an honouring. The ocean is searious business and I’m not invincible.
An important lesson in mindfulness and many other things, I have no doubt. It has been quite a week. The pink eye has gotten worse since I started writing this post, and I’m somewhat bothered, but it’s okay, it will go away soon. Perhaps the imposed need to stay in will give me the time to do some solid pondersome reflection.