The other day a friend sent me a quote that I really liked from writer Elizabeth Gilbert. It goes:
"Dear Ones –
Years ago, when I was going through a really hard time, a friend of mine who was a naturalist gave me some beautiful advice about how to best take care of myself.
He told me, “When an animal in the wild has been injured, it has only two strategies for how to heal itself: It can rest, or it can go to the water. Right now, try to do as much of both as possible.”
And then go to the water.
Drink the water. Submerge yourself in the water. Touch the water. Look at the water.
Then go back to sleep.
Repeat as necessary, until healing occurs.
Sometimes I forget these two magical principals — how to rest, and how to go to the water. Then I get overwhelmed by life’s challenges, and I trick myself into believing that I need a much more complicated cure than your average wounded animal. And sometimes I do need a more complicated cure, I guess.
But not usually.
Usually sleep and water will do the trick.
It always reminds me of that Isak Dinesen quote: “The cure for everything is salt water: tears, sweat, or the sea." "
"The cure of everything is salt water: tears, sweat or the sea."
I love water bodies. I love running beside rivers. I love when my ears are submerged in a pool and the only thing I can hear are the bubbles.
Recently, I've found myself back at my old running haunt near a river. I think the last time I ran there regularly was half a year ago, a time when I was in a lot of pain, and maybe that's why I didn't go back for a while. Maybe,our minds try to protect us in ways we can only understand in hindsight.
But tonight I ran there again. The water is different at night. It is brooding and pregnant, perhaps with the weight of hundred people's secrets.
In the day, the water is impatient and light, careless and alive; a child really.
At the same time, I'm terrified of the water. I don't know how to swim and I'm so afraid drowning. It's not quite the possibility of dying I fear, I'm actually really afraid of the process of drowning-- that moment when you feel like you've lost control and can't steady yourself. That moment on loop is the stuff that keeps me up at night.
When I went back to the river today, it was beautiful. Steadily, reliably, predictably beautiful.
And for a moment I wondered if I'll always only be able to enjoy water from afar.
P.S. Here's a song about being washed clean by water. If nothing else, this voice will heal you.