I like the way the shallow water feels. I dip my feet in and remember what someone once told me,, that the skin on your ankles is extra thin, or the veins are closer to the surface. This someone told me that the water on the outside somehow cools the blood on the inside and your heart pumps that cooler blood through your veins, cooling your entire body. I don’t know if it is true or not, but standing there in the shallow waters it feels true. I feel my whole body cooling off.
It is safe there in the shallow waters, and I am cool enough. I don’t even have to take my hat or sunglasses off. I can still hold my camera. My feet are steady on the sand and I do not have to think about my breathing. I just go about my business with my ankles in the water. Never fully submerged.
There are days when I have stayed in the shallow water the entire day. It just is the easiest thing to do. I don’t have to find anywhere to put my cellphone and keys, and I expend less energy that way.
But it is not the same thing as swimming. As filling your lungs up and diving deep below. Staying in the shallow waters does not give you that free feeling with your hair swimming all around you, and everything is quiet. You do not get to move the space around you to make a way for yourself, feel that space move past you like silk bed sheets. You do not experience the warmth and brightness of the sun, or the rush of air back into your lungs.
When you stay in the shallows all day you do not feel like you could be floating that night as you lie in bed. Every muscle exhausted and satisfied with the effort exerted. Your food does not taste better that night, seasoned with hunger. Those are prizes you cannot grasp with the tide swishing away at your ankles.
It isn’t as safe out there in the depths. You become breathless sometimes, there is nothing to protect you from the waves. Sometimes, all you can do is float on your back and wait for the calmer water to come. It can be dark and cold and for a split second you cannot figure out which direction you need to swim to breather.
But it is worth it, away from the shallow waters. The weightlessness, the freedom, they are found in the deep end.