Life lessons from the blue waters

21 June,2024 06:52 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Rosalyn D`mello

Floating in the sea or a pool allows me to feel a fearless weightlessness, as if this is just the way life is supposed to be

I was pleasantly surprised to find the pool water wasn’t chlorinated, it was simply sea water, delectably salty. Representation Pic

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It has been a week since I last worked on my laptop. My device has been sitting inside the cupboard of our hotel room. I've felt little to no inclination to turn it on. Today marks day six of our vacation at a resort in Corfu. We fly back tomorrow after lunch. All the days have simply dissolved into salt water. I know their taste well. My body has metabolised each memory, each residue.

I felt emotional yesterday because I've never been on such a relaxed, stress-free holiday. The elements I feared were excesses were what transformed it into a kind of luxury stay. Did you know you can do something like a half board, which means, besides breakfast, you eat either lunch or dinner at the hotel you're staying at? Buffet dinners are far from exhilarating, but I've enjoyed having the break from everyday cooking and dish washing. I've loved spending time with our child without having to work in between. Pure, unadulterated family time.

I have been learning to vacation like a European. Our second morning here, for instance, I woke up early and was sitting outside our garden terrace that is some metres away from the sea. I decided to work on my Italian. My partner woke up soon enough and asked if I didn't want to go for a dip in the sea. For some reason, it hadn't occurred to me this could be a possibility, because I am programmed to think of the whole business of being by the beach as long-drawn, something you do over hours, because the change into and out of swim clothes felt like an operation. But I've become an expert now at sneaking out of bed when our toddler is still asleep, getting into my swimsuit, walking the two-minute stretch of lawn that separates us from the sea and just walking into the water. In the mornings, the sea is absolutely still and the ripples appear prismatic in the leftover dawn light. I'm frequently the only person around, besides the staff that cleans around the area. I swim with the fishes. Actually, I don't swim. I float.

As someone who has harboured intense fear of deep water, who continues to be insecure about being in situations where my feet cannot securely feel the shore, it has been a lifelong mission to keep attuning myself to the sea. I have never been this close to being at peace in the sea, mostly because this part of the Corfu coast is relatively shallow for a long, long stretch. If you stand in the water, you will never be entirely submerged. The water is crystal clear and appears blue-hued from afar. You see tiny and bigger fish swimming to shore to feast on forms of foliage. Even though the pool has been inviting, it was only yesterday that we tried it out. I was pleasantly surprised to find the water wasn't chlorinated, it was simply sea water, delectably salty. This saline density perhaps enhanced the experience of floating. I did several laps with my back against the surface of the water, my face towards the azure blue, cloudless sky.

Floating allows me to feel a weightlessness. I don't have to move my body too vigorously to stay afloat. Just a little kicking with the legs when necessary and a delicate movement of the arms when I want to steer myself faster. It feels like a way of being, however ephemeral. Everything outside my consciousness evaporates. I feel, in that moment, like pure being.

Tomorrow we return home to Tramin. In a few days I leave with our toddler for a short trip to The Netherlands to visit an artist friend in her studio. It is the first time since motherhood that I'm explicitly traveling to meet an artist in their studio. After this brief expedition, we go into savings mode. We are fortunate, though, to live in the Southern Alps, a vacation destination in itself. I've decided to find a swimming instructor and really allow myself to properly learn. I want to be able to swim in a lake. I want to no longer feel afraid of the boundlessness of these water bodies. I want to inhabit their surfaces with less trepidation. No more fear.

Deliberating on the life and times of every woman, Rosalyn D'Mello is a reputable art critic and the author of A Handbook For My Lover. She tweets @RosaParx
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