the weather today was about as mild as it’s been all summer. i almost didn’t go to the beach. it’s my last of five days off, and at just under 80 degrees (with a water temp under 60) i wasn’t sure it would be warm enough. when i got there, it was still cool enough to leave my hoodie on and walk along the water, and at 10:45am, only surfers were in the waves. soon enough, as always, children followed.
i waded in up to mid-calf — the depth that always lets me feel like i’m “part of it” without getting too chilly — sure that it would be one of those days that only those 13-and-under would make the plunge. there’s just something about kids, you know? no matter the season, they play the hardest; they can withstand the coldest waves in the summer and the longest snowball fights in the winter months.
then, i looked to my left. about twenty feet down the shore was an older man, probably in his eighties, also standing calf-deep in the water. but he wasn’t standing still. he kept moving forward at a steady pace, straight into the ocean. once his waist was submerged, he did what almost looked like the very last part of a sun salutation for a few moments and then dove into the water. he disappeared for a second or two before reappearing and floating on his back. i looked away, then went in just a few feet deeper.
i have a lot of old emotional injuries. i’ve healed from them in many ways, or outgrown the need to go as slow and be as tender, but i still tiptoe around myself a bit. i still only go in calf-deep much of the time when really, i could be fucking around with the abandon of a child.
yes, they have lower centers of gravity, they physically heal much more quickly, and they don’t have some of the hindsight that older people do, but there’s really no reason that at 35, or 55, or 85, i shouldn’t still be plunging into the ocean if that’s what i came there to do, temperature be damned.