Going deep (by Kirsten Nilsen)

I am very pleased to introduce today’s guest blogger. For those of you who haven’t already happened upon her blog, Nilsen Life, I would highly recommend it. Many of the folks I’ve asked to guest post for me have been writing most of their lives. Kirsten, like me, has only recently discovered a love of writing. But you’d never know it by reading her work.

She’s good, y’all:

Kirsten Nilsen has long called herself a traveller, an observer, even a thinker but only recently figured out that she could also call herself a writer. She looks for meaning in the mundane, sometimes uses gratuitously big words and loves a good Wayne’s World quote. She loves a good joke, a powerful image, a precise phrase, and regularly finds examples of all of these in the amazing & often overwhelming world that is the Interweb. She fell into blogging by accident, and has been working her way backwards ever since.

The water simmers in the summer heat, so when you wade in, the first few steps through the murky pond water feel uncomfortably swamp-like. But just as you reach the point where your feet lift off the muddy bottom, you begin to feel the delicious swirls of cool dark water, mixing with the squelching mud. You strike out for the middle – alternating strong crawl strokes with sneaky head-just-above water breast stroke – until you reach the very center.

Far away you see your grandfather squinting out at you, wondering if he should call you back, but somehow aware that his twelve year old granddaughter knows her limits. The powerlines hum and crackle overhead, and the heat shimmers over the treeline of the mountains around you.

Once you are as far as possible from the shore, the trick is to jackknife your body and dive straight for the bottom – you know you can’t reach it, but know also that diving down…..down…..down you’ll finally reach the icy currents at the bottom of the pond.

In the water, your senses are assaulted by the sting of almost-freezing temperatures on your toes, even whilst you look up and see the rays of hot July sun pierce the green water. It feels like hours, spent diving and floating, floating and diving. Snatches of conversation float out over the water – someone asks the grandfather if he isn’t worried, worried about the girl floating in the water all the long hot afternoon. No, he laughs. No – that girl knows exactly where she is.

At twelve you haven’t grasped the the symbolism of suspending yourself in the depths. At twelve you can’t articulate the magnetic draw of the water – the elemental appeal of submersion. But what you do know at twelve is that you have struck out on your own – you’ve been given the freedom to go to the depths, with unwavering confidence in your ability to return to the surface.

Perhaps an indulgent grandfather had no way of knowing the profound memory he created that day. But never once has that swimmer entered the water without remembering the day she was allowed to go deep.


To read more from Kirsten Nilsen, visit her at her blog Nilsen Life and follow her on twitter at @NilsenLife

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