Fully Immersed

I love being around water. It clarifies my thoughts. It inspires new ideas. It allows me to recollect myself.

Clear Water Falling

Before taking the boat out onto Loch Katrine last week, I took some photos of a waterfall, and I felt myself becoming completely immersed in the activity of photographing the reflected light, the foam, the splashes, the smooth curve of the clear water as it ceaselessly sped over the edge.

Black Water

The Overwhelming Rush

The Edge of Water

When I stood back, my husband had to steady me, as I had lost my balance, so involved was I in this constant movement of the water.

Now, while I love being beside water, listening to water, photographing water, watching water, I haven’t actually swam in water for a long time now. I used to go swimming more than twice a week in the old Victorian baths in Edinburgh when I was a teenager. When I was pregnant, I used to go to aqua antenatal classes and enjoyed the feeling of weightlessness as my bump grew ever heavier. When the children were babies I used to take them into the local pool to get them used to the water, their small wet limbs clinging to my body. But for some reason, we stopped going, and so now, I can’t even remember the last time that I swam. Until today…

Today I took to the water as if my last dip in the pool was only yesterday. The water glided past me as my arms and legs synchronized to propel me through the water. I dove beneath the surface and opened my eyes to see the blurred, unfocused images of legs, feet and polystyrene floats. I kicked my legs and made waves which spread out from me to lap the edge of the other side. I floated star-shaped and drifted aimlessly.

What these two experiences of water have shown me is that there are two types of immersion: a mental one and a physical one. Both have the power to incite intense emotional responses, which wake us up to the wonder of the world that surrounds us, the world that we are an integral part of. And it strikes me that this response is at its strongest when we’re engaged with an element that we feel a particular affinity for, such as water or fire. For me, the element is quite clearly water. But what about you?

What have you experienced lately that caused you to wake up to wonder around you? Does water affect you emotionally? Or perhaps another element, such as earth, fire, or air influences your response?

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April 7, 2008. Environment.

14 Comments

  1. wendikelly replied:

    ahhh, just looking at these pictures of water is enough to mentally relax me, that is how much of an effect water has on me. I have water fountains all around my house and sleep to the sound of the ocean at night.

    These are beautiful Amy,it is still really cold here, but it makes me really look forward to being able to go for a swim.

  2. Joanna Young replied:

    Amy, fantastic pictures once again, and a wonderful description of that feeling of immersion.

    But for me it’s the land: okay I need to wait till it’s a bit warmer, but lying on a warm hillside, scratched by heather, smelling the moorland grasses, sinking deep into the earth… those are my roots, and how I lose myself.

    Joanna

  3. Karen Swim replied:

    Amy these pictures are beautiful. Water does it for me too, although when swimming I am sure that I am not gliding as gracefully as you. πŸ™‚ I find water calms me even when the waves are churning, it seems to still my soul and wash over me in peace. Like you simply being near the water provokes strong emotions. I loved immersing myself in the pictures. Thank you Amy for adding a sweet calming force to my day.

    Karen
    xx

  4. Daz Cox replied:

    today on the beach there was a really high tide and tons and tons of debris from some recent storms, more junk and driftwood than I have seen on that beach ever.

    I was walking with my camera looking for something interesting, I rarely take photos outside but figured I’d give it a shot, and I found a guys wallet with all his cards and Id’s etc. It had washed up on my beach from across the bay (I assume) so I called and emailed the guy to tell him the good news!

    I love beach combing! (even when it’s cold!)

  5. radha replied:

    Hi Amy! i had my first sea-swim at the beach this last saturday. it was awesome, the water was fresh and sparkling, not too freezing not too warm, just the right temperature to awaken all your sense and the joy to swim in an ocean of purity. Here in HK this is the best time to swim in outdoor places.

  6. Mike replied:

    I think we as humans do have a special relationship with the elements, as they have the power to affect our mind, body, and spirit. While I have an affinity for water, fire also came to mind while reading your post. In the summers we go up to a campgound and have campfires almost every night we are there. There is something relaxing and almost hypnotic about gazing into a burning fire, taking in the heat, the movement, and the various colors. There is also a communal aspect to it, as we all gather around the campfire, talking, laughing, and even sitting in silence.

  7. Zhu replied:

    I grew up by the sea and I really miss it now. I’m a water person… I could swim before I could walk!

    I love watching waterfalls. I calms me down.

  8. Karen Wallace replied:

    Amy, these are amazing photos. You’ve captured the essence of the water in your shots.

    I need water. It’s like an addiction. Being in it, being near it, hearing it. Smelling the salt from the sea, or that special river water scent. I love little creeks, those that meander amongst rocks and tree roots, and entice the frogs and cicadas to start up their happy chorus.

    There is nothing better than that feeling of being supported in water – Best in the surf, better in a pond or pool than a bath, but a bath is better than nothing.

    Thank you for sharing this, you’ve reminded me to go recollect myself.

  9. rolandhesz replied:

    Water, preferably in the form of some sea or ocean or at least a big lake, and mountains.
    That’s why I love Basque county in Spain.
    It has huge mountains with forests, and an ocean.

    Water calms me down, but waterfalls don’t really. They make me want to run, and do things.

    For watching fire. Some say that the television was such a hit because it replaced the – then missing – fire in the home, people gathering together and watching it. Especially in the early times when there was 1 television set in the whole house.
    It’s just that this fire mostly shows us junk, while fire has shown us whatever we had inside.

    Ok, cutting it short now and off to the monastery to take pictures of trees and old buildings and mountains.

  10. Robin replied:

    You’ve captured the way I feel when I’m around water so beautifully, you make me ache to go out into the night to sit at its edge.

    I need the immersion too though, but while I love to watch water in nature, for that feeling of incredibly “rightness” I actually prefer the purity of a crystal clear swimming pool on a scorching hot day.

  11. amypalko replied:

    Oh, Wendikelly, it’s been so long since I heard the sea. What bliss!

    What a fabulous description of the earth, Joanna. Thank you so much for sharing it πŸ™‚

    Yet another point of connection between us, Karen πŸ™‚

    That’s such an incredible find, Daz! I bet that guy was so shocked to get that phonecall.

    I think you’d have to be a hardy soul indeed to swim in the sea of Scotland, Radha!

    What a lovely, thoughtful comment, Mike. Thank you so much for contributing it. I think you’re spot on about the communal aspect of a fire. I used to have a coal fire in my home that I had to set every morning. I hated setting it, but I loved it once I had it going πŸ™‚

    Ah, a true water baby, Zhu πŸ˜‰

    Yes, Karen, I completely agree that a bath is better than nothing!

    It’s so true isn’t it, Roland, that waterfalls have a different effect on the soul than babbling brooks etc? Also, that idea that the tv replaced the fire is very compelling!

    We don’t get many of those scorching days in Scotland, Robin, but we do have lots of ‘water in nature’. One of the benefits of all the rain we get πŸ˜‰

  12. nouveaufauves replied:

    Such wonderful pictures!

  13. amypalko replied:

    Thank you, Nouveau Fauves πŸ™‚

  14. radha replied:

    infact i am swimming where i live which is Hong Kong, HK, ^ ^

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