When I was a wee thing, my Aunt Helen taught me to swim in Kinniconick Creek near my grandparents’ home in Lewis County, Kentucky. I didn’t like the feel of the occasional fish sucking at my toes, so she let me swim in my tennis shoes. Entering the cool green shade after the long, hot walk was like crossing over into a secret world. I remember the echoing click-clack of the dry stone under my feet, the careful negotiation over the slippery wet stone, the plip-plip-plip-plip-plop of a stone, flung by an older cousin, skipping over the water’s surface. Magical.
Unfortunately, the terror of a near-drowning experience a few years later in a public swimming pool in Indianapolis, Indiana ended my swimming days. However, I still dream that I can swim.
Each dream scenario is different, but the exhilaration I feel when I realize I’m swimming is always the same. I’m surprised to discover I’m swimming, but it’s obvious I can, so I do. With less effort than the action should warrant, I glide through the cool water. I feel no sense of the panic, the breathlessness, that accompanies my being in or even near deep water in real life.
That dream sensation is the same one I feel when my writing goes well. I swim effortlessly down that river of words. I’m joyfully swept away, the sun warming my head, the water cooling my body. At times, my strokes are powerful, carrying me a long distance in no time. Sometimes I tread water, gazing around, soaking up the view, listening, thinking until I’m ready to swim some more. When tired, I float, eyes closed, waiting for renewed strength, and then I flip over and set off again.
It’s been awhile, but I think I hear the splash and babble of water again. I feel the change in the air temperature. I’m so close I can feel the stones under my feet. How long, how deep is this river? I don’t know, but it’s time to dive in. See you at The End.