Monday, August 27, 2012


 I am an ocean. And in the rocky inlet where I have been living, it's high tide.

The waters have risen up, up, up to the edge of the rocky shoreline. In this corner of the ocean, my inner life is filled to the brim. 
(from this post)

It's still high tide season in my life, but I am learning how to swim.

At the suggestion of a dear friend of mine, I am getting right into the water so I can f l o a t when the water gets really high.

Because I don't know quite how to apply that advice metaphorically, I decided to go for the literal first; I've been getting in the water a lot lately.

I floated for the first time a few weeks ago when I was at the bay by myself.

I was soaking in sun and poetry and making sure my soul was getting nourished. I felt comforted and comfortable lying there on the sand, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I had to get in the water. I had purposely chosen a spot on the beach where there weren't a lot of people, but I still had to confront my gnawing anxiety about walking down to the water's edge in my bathing suit. I felt silly, exposed.

I did it anyway.

When I haven't been in the water for a while, I have to submerge slowly. It's not just that I have to adjust to the temperature of the water; I have to adjust to letting myself get wet. I take small steps until the water level reaches my abdomen, and then I stop.

At that point I either need to plunge in one motion and pull my whole body, head and hair under the water, or I just need to turn around and get out. The belly spot is the point of no return for me.

That day, I took the plunge. As soon as my head emerged--dripping wet, cooled and refreshed--an involuntary smile spread across my face. I stood there quietly in the water and let the feeling soak in.

I felt emboldened by my first dunk, so I decided to do it again. And again.

Because I was thoroughly wet, I let my body relax into the water. My head rested on an invisible pillow and the rest of my body was stretched out on a bed of water. I floated for the first time in a long time, maybe since childhood.

There was a sound of clicking under the water that made me think boats were shifting gears. I shot my closed eyes open and looked around. The coast was clear. (Literally.) When my ears were under the water again the clicking sound continued. I'm still not sure what it was. But the point is, I heard it.

I made a conscious effort to stay connected to my body. I felt what it was like to be buoyant and fully supported by the water under me.  I was aware of the total relaxation in my body as I rested there.  

This I have to remember, I told myself. This is what I have to take with me when the pressure of stress starts to build up and I feel like I'm going to sink emotionally. Float. Remember what it feels like to float.

When I emerged from that water that day, I felt refreshed to my core.

But as the days have worn on, I have had to return to the water to refresh myself again.

This past week, floating opened something up in my soul.

As soon as I arrived at the beach, I stripped down to my suit and and went right to the water. I did not need to tip toe in like the first time. I have become accustomed to being wet, so I walked briskly to the belly point and then pulled myself under.

And instead of just getting wet, I decided to play.

I swam out until I couldn't touch the bottom and did forward and backward somersaults; I laid on my back and made big, noisy splashes as I kicked my feet. I felt like a kid again.

Before I could get out, I had a strong sense that I needed to float for a bit longer than I am normally comfortable with.

I laid myself down on the water's surface and counted--as slowly as I could--to sixty. (Those sixty-ish seconds felt like sixty minutes.) Midway through, I had to open my eyes and make sure everything was okay around me. It was.

When I got to sixty, I was amazed at what I'd found. I was floating in no more than 10 inches of water. Just enough for the underside of me not to be scraping the sand. 

All that time (during that l o n g float), I felt like I was drifting into deeper and deeper waters, where the security of the shoreline was far away. (It's what always makes surrender to relaxation so scary when it's high tide and I'm in deep water.) But instead, my surrender carried me back to the water's edge.

As these thoughts raced through my mind, all of a sudden this joyous laughter came bubbling up out of my belly. It all seemed too wonderful and simple and my heart and mind and body were full of delight.

There is nothing to fear! my heart sang.

I was alone in the water at dusk--laughing out loud--and I didn't care. 

That laughter isn't bubbling up out of my belly right now--when I feel I could sink or swim--and that's why I'm here to remind myself of what it feels like to totally surrender to buoyancy.

I may not have time for a salt-water dip today, but I can still remember what it feels like to float.

There's nothing to fear. Nothing to fear.


  1. "Nothing to fear! Nothing to fear!"

    I'm laughing out loud with you, Angela! For you have taken me into the ocean with you :)

    I used to have dreams about swimming in the ocean... tackling the fear and discovering I could swim for miles and miles - the water was warm! It was such a surprise, my dream-swimming in the ocean :)

    I love, love, love your writing and I'm so glad you are sharing your journey!!!!

    Yay, Angela! More, God, more :)

    1. "I'm laughing out loud with you, Angela! For you have taken me into the ocean with you :)"

      I have been smiling about that comment for the past two hours.

      Ooohhhh.... I love your dream. Wanna know a secret? The water here *has* been really warm recently. Like maybe the warmest I can ever remember it feeling. Maybe your dream won't remain a dream forever?


  2. Wow. This: "But instead, my surrender carried me back to the water's edge."

    Love this. Thank you for plunging in and floating and sharing with us. Also, these photos (and you) are so lovely.

    1. Thank you, Beth. You are a plunger and floater too, that's probably why you liked this. :)

  3. Absolutely beautiful and exhilarating ... Love your pics..what a liberating journey for you! Keep are amazing!

    1. Thank you, Adria. Exhilarating is a good word... it has been. I am so delighted that you came here today. :)

  4. This is beautiful....I love that you literally got in the most definitely is one of the best feelings...very freeing, not to mention relaxing. Two things you deserve right now my friend!

  5. These words and images are absolutely stunning. I love the imagery and will be thinking about floating today. Perfect inspiration for this final weekend of summer.

    Thank you for visiting Raising Humans yesterday to see our mutual friend, Tara. I'm so glad to have found you through her!

    1. I loved the intro you wrote to Tara's post and I found myself saying, "Oh yes, exactly" to your description of her writing. Thanks for stopping by. :)

  6. Angie, I LOVE this. Oh, how I miss floating, and this makes me remember all those feelings you describe... I love how you "did it anyway" despite the feelings that surrounded you at first, you "plunged." I love how you felt surrendered. And I love how you entitled this post "Mermaid." I love mermaids. This is a special post.

    1. Thank you, Brianne. I hope you get to float again soon. :)