Wild – a piece of creative non-fiction from Lynn

Today we are re-publishing a  beautiful and poignant piece of writing from Ayrshire based writer, artist and education Lynn Blair.  We thought this was something a bit unique to tie in the Mental Health Awareness Week theme of “movement” and it was clearly a favourite with many  when first published on the blog.  Lynn Blair is a lecturer in Communication and Media and has a particular interest in life writing and writing to improve mental health. On social media she’s @verbisan..  Thank you to Lynn for  this piece and for her wonderful creative contributions to Mind Waves over the years!

I notice she’s not beside me and I turn back laughing, grab her hand and pull her forward. I am your mama: this is my job. Our toes might be numb and our thighs screaming stop, but you will not be left quaking on the brink: I’m going to tug you onwards into water that’s higher, colder, greyer. This is what we came for after all. There’s a warship on the horizon, a hulking, grey, menacing thing travelling behind the island. There’s always a bloody warship. The trick is to keep your eyes on the movement of the wave in front of you, on the sandy space your feet will move to next.

This is my happiest of places – chilled, unwelcoming, as likely to slap you in the face as hold you calmly aloft. Each day, the sea has a different mood. Today she’s slightly grizzly, tolerating company but warning that soon she won’t be as agreeable. Waist deep, I splash water on my chest, my arms, my back, each pinprick making my skin fizz in protest. I’m ready to lose my breath so I bend all the way forward, my torso fully submerged and once I’ve done that, there really is no point in not swimming. There’s a tipping point and it’s that, that you need to learn, when every cell is shouting for you to stop, but you fall forward, reaching for something just a little mightier. I scream. I can’t help it. Then I’m laughing, stretching out into every wave while you’re still standing, waist deep, laughing and saying, I can’t. I ignore this. You’re talking to the sea, not me, and she’ll persuade you in good time.

It begins to rain, great fat drops of sky that feel warm and sweet and have lost all power against the rawness of the sea. You’re bobbing about looking wee and lost, so I swim back, take both your hands and say ‘One. Two. Three’ as if you’re four years old again and need to jump a puddle. You get your chest in and that’s all it will take. I swim away, leaving you to puzzle it out for yourself, to figure out how to make that decision to yield and fall forward. I don’t know what goes through your mind, or when exactly you decide, but a few minutes later you’re swimming beside me, thrilled, showing me excitedly how the veins stand out blue on your arm.

A drizzle of a Saturday. Later, there will be a fire in our garden, and cake and bubbles. We sing Happy Birthday, raking the water up into sparkling showers, riding the waves, noticing how we’re pushed back by the tide and swooped on by seagulls. There is no destination when you’re in the sea, no side you can aim for. You choose a direction. You choose how fast to go. You choose when to stop and rest and when to set off with a new piece of the horizon as your view. It is aimless. Pointless. Utterly wonderful.

There is a moment in cold water, when you notice a change, when the cold reaches a spot deep inside your core and sends a message back. Enough. Don’t push it. Leave now. We make for shore, but when we’re almost there, just shin deep, I say, ‘let’s just run in one more time’. I’m greedy for these feelings. You must hold life, ask for seconds, grab every glorious minute. I want you to be able to swim in freezing water, on a grainy day, with no prospect of ease, and feel happy beyond measure. We grin at each other and turn back towards the depths. Two more minutes more won’t kill us: it’ll show us how to live.

 If you’re interested in writing something for Mind Waves, please get in touch by emailing maddy@mindwavesnews.com, sending a message on Twitter @MindWaves1 or DMing on Instagram @mindwaves_scot


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