When I reminisce about my days as a camper at Edith G Newell and Bonnie Brae, I can’t help but smile. Our tent cabins nestled by the side of the lake provided the perfect backdrop for unforgettable summer memories. One of the highlights of our daily routine was the invigorating swimming lessons. The post-dawn hours saw the sun’s gentle rays peeking through the trees, lending a warm touch to the waters.
Adjacent to the water’s edge, a sizable board adorned with hooks displayed our names. It was our responsibility to flip the tag when we ventured into the lake—an ingenious system to track and account for all the swimmers. Furthermore, our swimming expertise was symbolized by vibrant bathing caps. The progression from Red to Yellow and Green denoted our skill level, culminating with the coveted Blue cap that granted access to the deeper waters at the far end of the dock.
While we all cherished the afternoon lessons, as they offered respite from the sweltering heat in the embrace of the Big Pond, the morning swims posed a unique challenge. After changing in the boat house, our group would descend the well-manicured bank, shivering in anticipation of the 70-degree water’s icy embrace. Nevertheless, we would collectively take the plunge, letting out exhilarating screeches to express our momentary discontent. Gradually, as we bobbed up and down, our shivering selves would warm up, acclimating to the coolness of the lake. By the time the 30-minute lesson concluded, we had become one with the water, gleefully paddling and kicking our way toward the floating rope stationed at the far end of the dock.
Looking back, those brisk morning swims were more than just a summer pastime—they instilled in me valuable life lessons. Enduring the frigid lake, even when it wasn’t the most convenient time, taught me resilience and adaptability in the face of life’s ever-changing currents. Today, as I sit at my writing perch, gazing out at the tranquil harbor, I find solace in the familiarity of the still waters and the dappled sunlight filtering through the watchful sentinel pine trees—much like those scheduled morning swim days of yore. It’s intriguing to note that on the island where I now reside, one of my neighbors takes a daily swim in the harbor. Although I’ve never ventured into those waters myself, I make a promise to take the plunge this summer.
In the heart of the harbor lies a deep expanse, frequently visited by whales frolicking and hunting for shrimp. It serves as a passage for large vessels en route to Nichols Brothers for repair. During the port back-up caused by the COVID pandemic, freighters found temporary refuge there, anchored for weeks on end, awaiting unloading at a nearby port. Witnessing the harbor transform into a temporary storage ground for freighters was a stark reminder that even our tranquil havens can be upended in an instant.
Reflecting on those chilling morning swims, I realize they prepared me for navigating a world in constant flux and evolution. The ability to adapt, embrace change, and seize opportunities amidst turbulent tides was honed during those formative moments. Now, the time has come for me to venture into the harbor and immerse myself in the refreshing embrace of the cold summer waters of the Pacific Northwest. I can’t help but recall the bone-chilling day I leaped off a boat into the frigid waters of the Portland Maine Harbor, or the invigorating plunge at Seven Waves in Santa Fe. It’s amusing how one can become set in their ways, seeking the warmth of a jacuzzi on the porch at the mere thought of cold water.
To adapt and flourish in a world defined by constant change, The Practical Shaman knows it is essential to embrace experiences that challenge us. What challenge are you willing to face today?
Share how a childhood memory prepared you for this time where adaptability is key for your happiness and surviving the storm?