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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15 Responses to “Going deep (by Kirsten Nilsen)”

  1. susie @newdaynewlesson July 21, 2010 at 12:09 am #

    what a beautiful memory (and picture)
    .-= susie @newdaynewlesson´s last blog ..Even Annoyance Can Be Forged Into A Treasured Moment =-.

  2. Jeanne Damoff July 21, 2010 at 10:16 am #

    Lovely piece! Thank you.
    .-= Jeanne Damoff´s last blog ..Jacob’s Song- stardust revisited =-.

  3. Duane Scott July 21, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    Our heavenly Father watches over us in a likewise manner, allowing us to “go deep.” Wonderfully written, Kirsten.
    .-= Duane Scott´s last blog ..dreaming with a troubled heart =-.

  4. Maureen July 21, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

    Lovely writing. Thank you for the introduction!
    .-= Maureen´s last blog ..Down on the Farm =-.

  5. Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful July 21, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

    I love that story! I was there, in the murkey water, floating…remember my own summers at the lake. Thank you!
    .-= Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful´s last blog ..This =-.

  6. michael July 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    No…That girl knows exactly where she is.

    That one line gave me goose bumps.
    .-= michael´s last blog ..Just Because =-.

  7. Billy Coffey July 21, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    That post was awesomesauce. Fantastic job, Kirsten.
    .-= Billy Coffey´s last blog ..Best Friends =-.

  8. Lori-Anne July 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    I have a sudden urge to go swimming now. And to go deep. I don’t get to do that much with two v. small kidlets to watch on the shore, and suddenly realized I miss it. Thanks Kirsten and Katdish for the great post 🙂
    .-= Lori-Anne´s last blog ..Wrapped in Tradition =-.

  9. Shel July 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    I think he knew Kir. Very wise old curmudgeon was he. Your writing continues to inspire me, and brings me right there, over and over again.

  10. Louise July 21, 2010 at 8:17 pm #

    Nice. REally nice. and the memory lives on.

    How lovely.
    .-= Louise´s last blog ..The View From My Place =-.

  11. katdish July 21, 2010 at 10:18 pm #


    Thanks again for this great story. I spent some time looking through some of your old posts last night. I sincerely hope you continue on this writing journey. You’re a natural.

    • Kirsten July 22, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

      well thank YOU for the opportunity to stretch in a new direction. Sometimes all you need is a kick in the backside from an unexpected source, right? 😉 I’ll continue, muddling through until I figure it all out.
      .-= Kirsten´s last blog ..Wanna Go Deep With Me =-.

  12. Grace July 22, 2010 at 7:42 am #

    Awww. This brings back so many memories of my Grandad. I love it.
    .-= Grace´s last blog ..Thank You- Russell Brand =-.

  13. Missy July 22, 2010 at 10:26 am #

    Beautiful work, as always, Kirsten! As a fellow swimmer/water lover, I really enjoyed this. My mind is never so clear, my heart never so free, as when I’m moving through the water.

  14. Varda (SquashedMom) July 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm #

    Kirsten, so nice to follow you over here and find Kat all at the same time. What a beautiful beautiful post, and a lovely memory. Perfect title, too, literal and metaphoric in a mere two words. I love your writing. (can’t wait to meet you in 2 weeks!)
    .-= Varda (SquashedMom)´s last blog ..A Little Respect =-.

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