This week, I was struck by the contrasts I have experienced of late.
Autumn presents a choice for this swimmer. To swim outdoors, or to retreat indoors?
I have preferred to swim indoors recently. And it's not, I think, because of the relatively cooler temperatures.
It is the sense of safety that the indoor pool offers me. The known. The familiar. The lane ropes are comforting rather than confining. I can choose my course and stick to it without difficulty. Right now, great satisfaction is mine in the pool.
The water warm. Sometimes a little too warm. The lengths add up, and I swim for several kilometres. I explore the line between effort and ease, and quickly find my way into the latter.
Elsewhere, I have found myself entering alien environments. I have visited the hospital ward on which my mother has lain with hideous trepidation.
I have looked around to find her lying amidst a bay of eight elderly women. She looks older than I remember. She is frail. She is confused.
I forget why it is that I came. It matters not. I am here. I sit awhile. I remain as long as I can bear. Which isn't long enough.
I feel hopeless, and helpless. It feels airless. I cannot breathe. I long to be back in the pool. I feel so much more at home in the water.