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The light of water

The other morning at the retreat of tide, I went for a swim with a friend after yoga class.

The wind was bracing despite being sheltered in this South Devon cove. I walk into the water - it has cooled already, although it is still only September. It should stay warmer for longer, but the storms have begun.

My friend points to a large cloud bank coming from the West: "That's why I thought we should swim now; before the rain comes". The cloud was coming our way. Vast dark grey. Laden.

The cold of the sea makes you focus everything on your physicality and its physicality - a shared physicality. The trick is, is to calm your mind so you don't panic. Tell yourself: "Everything is alright" and "It will feel sublimely wonderful once I am in". I also remind myself that the migraines have gone due to this sea swimming.

Since primary school, I had one week out of every four that was migraine-free. So that's three weeks of every month feeling like there was a steel bolt that was in turns: icy cold to red hot, that some sadist had driven through my head and was torturing me by tightening it, or twisting it, or ramping up the extremes of temperature. Three weeks of feeling overwhelmingly nauseous, not seeing properly, swollen and puffy, uncomfortable, not sleeping, depression, feeling like I was going to die, feeling it might be better if I did die, and then the after shock of feeling bruised, battered, disorientated and exhausted... and then and then, feeling guilty and disappointed in myself that I wasn't accomplishing enough in my life.

And now, after my third year of all year sea swimming I can tell you dear reader, I haven't had a migraine for almost all of these three years. They soon diminished in that first winter of swimming, and now, they are no longer here. This has changed my life. I tell as many people as possible despite sounding like a born-again. Actually, I do feel born again.

But this isn't what I wanted to tell you about today: it's the light...

Back to swimming in this storm-ravaged sea. The slate grey sky gathers itself more serious. White horses far out. Flurries of white gannets and herring gulls dive for fish. I look for the dolphins beneath them but can't make them out. Too wavy. The cloud has now heaved itself across the entire surface of the turquoise milky storm-churned sea. One milky spot light from the smothered sun flecks random slow sparkles on the surface.

The sea alters. It begins to glow - from within. There must be light inside the water. That is the only explanation. And I feel a part of it.


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