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