Not swimming with sharks

If summer were a meal, I ate the whole thing and feel satisfied. 

I wrote the above sentence last September and then said how crazy I felt anyway. I’ve had the phrase I ate the whole thing stuck in my head again lately. I’ve also felt the angst that comes with putting too much on my plate: the guilt and greed of wanting it all, the doubt that I’m worthy of any of it, and the disappointing reality that summertime isn’t one big lemonade commercial. Although yeah, it kind of is. 

I took an unplanned break from reading and writing blog posts and the act felt like drifting along a lazy river all day wearing only SPF 4. It felt easy and indulgent and reckless all at once. I didn’t drink or change my mind about drinking. Every purple-orange-pink sunset confirmed that life has richer hues without drinking, that none of this would even be possible if I were still stuck in that hell rut. 

We just got back from a final trip to the beach. I felt off my game in packing for it and forgot all sorts of things…phone charger, medicine, nectarines rotting sweetly in a basket at home. Most schools started back already, and any remaining tanned beachgoers had a dazed, tired look, like they missed the last ferry home and were sorting out what to do about it in no particular hurry. 

One night, we walked along the beach and saw a crowd forming. A fisherman had caught a five-foot shark and everyone stood around watching it thrash about while also looking dazed or possibly bored. The fisherman finally cut the line and another brave/stupid soul awkwardly cradled it back to the waves. As the shark’s fin disappeared under the water, my youngest asked “why didn’t anyone tell me those were in there?” 

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A couple of mornings later, I went for a much anticipated run 4 miles up the coastal highway to check out one of the old submarine watch towers that pepper the Delaware coast, relics leftover from WWII if you can even imagine.

 

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I’ve been riding past these towers for, oh, roughly the last 40 summers and never stopped to get a closer look. This year inspiration came and rewarded. 

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great graffiti

I ran 6.2 miles to mentally prepare for a 10K I signed up for this fall and walked the remaining distance along the shore with an endorphin high and jelly legs and true appreciation for those who run half marathons and longer. The wind whipped the ocean and sand around and ruled out any kind of beach day. The truth is I never got in the ocean at all this season to swim. I drove home yesterday feeling bent out of shape about it and not sure why it bothered me so much. 

I think I decided that not swimming this year made me feel suddenly old, like my best days are behind me. I wallowed in that feeling on the drive home and it receded some, so I think that was it.

Maybe it was a break, nothing more or less. Breaks can be good.

 

 

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20 thoughts on “Not swimming with sharks

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  1. Interesting on feeling old. For the first time this summer, I thought “I might be getting too old to be able to do that.” Then I realized, I probably could not have done the “that” 20 years ago either, but I also refused to accept the inherent setting of limitations. Yeah, breaks are good, new directions are good, but I don’t want to slide into making excuses either . . .

    Thanks for sharing.

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  2. This post has reminded me that I have literally done nothing this summer.
    At least nothing I can claim as “summer-y”. Just a lot of work and being in a negative place. I’ve crawled out of that place in the last few weeks and getting back to my old self, yet I can’t help but be sad that I haven’t taken advantage of my summer.

    BUT!
    fall is my favorite time of the year and it’s coming up. I couldn’t be any more excited for it. Pumpkin spice lattes? Pumpkin spice ANYTHING? You betcha.

    I looks and sounds like a lovely vacation, even with the slight existential twinge.

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    1. Hm, existential vacations don’t sound very fun, huh? Pumpkin anything does though! I love fall too and part of this restlessness is impatience for it to get here. September here is not quite summer, not quite fall. Fummer. Bummer.

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  3. Lol! I have to laugh because, by god, I experienced this very same thing this summer! We went to Busch Gardens and I rode roller coasters. I liked it OK, but also it felt like it was a little “much” for me. Like, too thrilling? I think I got in the pool twice or once this summer because it was so nice not to be in a constant state of one-of-my-children-is-going-to-drown-unless-I-watch-them-at-all-times. I actually read books and stared off into space! Getting in the pool seemed like such a step backwards. At the beach I didn’t really get in either- I mean, there’s stuff in the water for chrissakes. The water was cold, cold, freezing cold. (And there was a hurricane.) The pool at the beach seemed very shallow and full of small kids in big plastic diaper-y bathing suitish things who were probably peeing every five seconds.

    So huh. Maybe that does make us old. But in that good relaxed chilled out way. Definitely NOT in the I’m too lazy and boring way. Ahem. 🙂 xoxo

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    1. Oh Amy, you nailed it as always. This was the first summer my youngest could swim on her own. I too got to read poolside for the first time in…forever? No, it couldn’t be, but it felt so foreign to not wince and inch into the pool as her personal lifeguard. Yes, we are getting older come hell or highwater (poolwater?), but I’d always hoped that meant feeling more relaxed and chilled too.

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  4. I love that feeling that you have climbed a hill that gives so much, then things begin to flatten out and you begin to look about for new challenges.
    It gives me a sense of wisdom and memories of delight.
    A great read BB. and enjoy the fall. B

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  5. Beautifully written as usual, K. Glad you chilled out for a bit there. nice run too! I got the jelly legs too right now, so I feel you on that one.

    I think like the tides there, our lives pull and pull in and out, findind its level as needed, receding when needed. always in some fluid fluctuation. And perhaps that is what you are observing.

    You’ll hit the water at some point, and it will be with a whole ner perspective 🙂

    Lovely post.

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    1. I like your description of life as natural tides that are always pulling and receding. They’re impossible to predict, but that’s okay and there’s comfort in knowing that.

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  6. If you’re old for lamenting that you didn’t swim in the ocean, then how old am I for considering that thought, and being stubbornly glad I didn’t? Pretty damn old, is the answer!

    Breaks are always a good thing, and I’m wondering if the how and when I found this post is a sign of some sort.

    How: procrastinating because absolutely nothing I am thinking of writing is interesting
    When: on a day that I just sat and counseled a family member that taking a break is a good thing

    Maybe someone is telling me to take a break? Or maybe I am a complete narcissist and it actually isn’t all about me? Maybe I need to drive down the shore and take a swim?

    In any event, so glad to see you back, so glad you enjoyed your swim-free break, so jealous that you ran 6.2, and so happy I found this post 🙂

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  7. well I hope I can get caught up on some pother posts that I have missed – but in the meantime I am just glad I was able to catch this one. I like your writing a lot – it just flows. oh – and that kool-aide guy in the graffiti – loved it – I actually have a little plastic figure of this that my nephew gave me in 2008 – he gave it to me with love and it is special still.

    anyhow, I think you regretted not swimming because your body was mad that it did not get that wonderful saturating of salt and magnesium and ocean goodness. even though earlier this summer there was some bacteria on the carolina east coast and everyone had to dip in the pool to stop the itching – yuck! so maybe you missed out on that – ha!

    oh – and just wanted to share this DP link about sharks… and was something I shared with my son…

    In 1916, after reports of shark attacks off the coast of New Jersey, Dr. Frederic Lucas, the renowned and highly esteemed director of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, calmly reassured the country that sharks were harmless.

    http://www.delanceyplace.com/view_archives.php?2601&p=2601

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