Hannah L Stone

this is where I write the light
swimming out

swimming out


I’m not sure what made me think of swimming this morning.

Life lately has been hectic, my heart feels anxious, there are some big unknowns and yet this morning as I drove, I found myself thinking of snorkeling in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Kenya.

It was during my stay at a resort that my roommate Jo and I met a group of people there for a conference.  They were going out snorkeling the next afternoon and asked us to join them.  Jo didn’t want to, I did.  So I met them on the beach and off we went.

We borrowed masks and flippers, walked down the beach, stepped into the ocean and began swimming out.

There was no real destination, just out to see what we could see.  The person we got the equipment from made a vague gesture with his arm that indicated no place specific, or maybe it did.  I had not been part of the activity planning, I was just along for the ride, so maybe someone in the group knew our destination.

I’ve always enjoyed swimming, I’ve taught swimming lessons in the past, I enjoy the water.  But whenever I go snorkeling, which I think has only been a hand full of times, it take me awhile to trust the mask.  I want the rhythm of strokes and side breaths instead of keeping my head submerged.  It doesn’t seem like a good idea to me and there is a slight moment of doubt that it will work the way it is supposed to work until I settle in.

I forget how many of us headed out that day, all of them strangers to me, maybe there were eight of us?  Swimming from the beach out, out, out, to no real destination.  I remember it being quiet, just the sound of my arms pulling the water, my breathing in the mask.  Everything else was blocked out.

Maybe I’m leaving the shore again, the safety of sand and solid ground and am swimming out to a vague unknown destination.  It feels like that to me.  We have been waiting on a referral to a pediatric hematologist for our middle child.  The appointment is next week.

The closer that day gets I feel equal measures relief that we will get to see a specialist and hopefully get some answers and also panic as to what those answers could turn out to be.

I’m not sure what the destination is going to be and I want the reassurance of our normal life rhythm instead of the high alert I feel I am on with every new symptom or concern or time he says he is in pain.

I remember thinking, as I swam out into the ocean with strangers that this would be the part in the movie where everyone watching would cringe and say, “What were they thinking?!”  There were a lot of moments like that while I was living in Kenya .  Like the one time I blindly walked straight through a police barricade and the armed soldier grabbed me and spun me around to face him and I was incredulous, “What?” I said, “I just want to buy a kit-kat!”  Why did I even say that to a very large African holding a weapon?  So many moments you would think to yourself, this is not going to end well.

We swam and swam and swam that afternoon.  I have no idea how far out we went, far enough that when we stopped I squinted to see the shore.   We stayed out awhile, treading water, floating, looking.  And then we swam back ending up further down the beach than where we started from.  Each of us leaving footprints along the beach that afternoon walking back.

I am swimming out again, following someone else who actually knows the destination I am headed to.  Swimming and swimming, treading water and floating.  Maybe when I return to shore I’ll be further down the beach than I ever expected.  Every single day I swing between a) it is going to be fine and b) we are about to be shipwrecked.

All I know is that one day I was asked to go snorkeling and I said yes.


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