“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”
– William Faulkner
On Saturday I watched an interview with a competitive long distance swimmer training to swim across the English Channel. “Courage is like a muscle,” he said. “You have to keep exercising it.”
I’ve been wanting to jump into the cold ocean for weeks now. But I haven’t been brave enough. I stood on the shore like everyone else, cupping our hands and rubbing our skin with the water. A few people jumped into the water – and out just as quickly.
But yesterday I was determined to get in. At the end of my morning walk I put on my bathing suit and walked to the beach. It was already hot and the beach was full of people even though it was only 9:30 AM. I stood at the shoreline for a long time – but I never did go in.
Back home I send a text to my friend Leagh, someone I’ve shared cold water swims with. I said, “I needed you by my side to dare me to get into the water.” She wrote back and told me about her friend in the hospital who only has a 10% chance to live. “Go jump in that ocean amiga…no regrets. I’m with you in spirit. Carpe diem.” I put my bathing suit back on and walked with determination to a different beach where the sand sloped gently into the water. For the first time there were more people in the water than along the shore. I went in slowly, and then I didn’t want to ever get out.
I felt so alive, so blessed, so supported by the salt water, by my friend 5000 miles away, by my husband who braved the water with me, by my never ending desire to keep on exercising my courage muscle – even in the smallest of ways.
It’s true what Mark Twain said, that twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover…
And carpe diem!