“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” ` Mother Theresa
“They didn’t laugh? Really? And all you had on was your bathing suit? No shoes or towel? Nothing?”
“Not a peep, giggle, or smirk.”
“Lis! Two days ago you said you didn’t want to be seen in a bathing suit. Now you’re wearing one as you order hot cocoa in the bright light of day in the middle of Winter?” Wow! was all I could think.
An hour earlier we’d met in the beach parking lot. The drive there was excruciating.
“I hate this! I really do!”
My son listened to my pep talk to myself and laughed nervously along with me. See, this early morning swim had become a tradition. It’s #3 for me. New Year’s Day, Rose Island Lighthouse, and the first weekend in March so far. The goal is to take a dip in the ocean on or near the first of every month.
I’m committed, but it never gets easier.
When our three pairs of feet hit the sand I knew there could be no delay, no hesitation or she’d bolt back to her car. Brody was already showing signs of reluctance, but he was too far away from me to do anything about it.
I grabbed Lisa by the wrist before she could stop walking and started her in a slow trot to the ocean.
Then we hit the water. Screams of shock and pain were drowned by laughter. Brody never made it past his knees. Lisa got up to her thighs and froze. So I plunged under and splashed her the rest of the way wet as we watched my son racing to the car.
“I think it’s colder than when we came on January 1st! I don’t remember it being that cold!” he laughed.
I felt a calming depth to my joy that I’d felt on the two previous “swims” and knew that it had become a trigger to wake myself up and feel alive again.
Alive and aware of how fleeting life is.
And life is meant to be felt deeply and to bring one joy. But it also has to be shared with people we love.
“Why do you guys have to do that?” complained my youngest daughter when we got home.
I spent the rest of the day wondering the same thing. I tried to explain what it did for me, but fell short every time.
All I can really offer is what I saw happen with my best friend, and what changed inside of me because she’d come.
Would I do a Polar Plunge by myself? I would, but I always want to be with someone. It’s more fun. (And I have to admit, if nobody came with me I know without a doubt that someone from the “other side” would be there to laugh with me.We’re never really alone.)
This was a new experience for her and she could only imagine what it would feel like. As long as it stayed in her head, she’d believe that a dip in the frigid ocean would be painful, crazy, pointless and maybe life-threatening.
She was scared.
But she changed after the experience.
She was so happy. Her fear of being seen in her suit in public was gone. It was wonderful to hear how she was miffed that the ladies serving her the hot chocolate didn’t react to her appearance. She was awake and feeling alive and was really in the mood to share her joy.
The night before the swim she said, ” Bets, call me at 5:25 and I will meet you… I need to do this… life is way to short to miss this opportunity with my ???? don’t know what to call you anymore…. going to put on my suit tonight when I go to bed to be ready!!!! LOL You just gave me the hiccups!!!” (from Facebook)
And you want to know the last thing she said to me yesterday?
For me, nothing is more joyful than having a friend to enjoy the journey. Max de Pree said:
“We need to give each other the space to grow, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”
…it’s just so much fun when those spaces are shared once in a while.
Don’t you think?