WHAT'S ON THE AGE-ENDA | Alone with one's thoughts

People have always had a yearning to swim from hither to yon. The English Channel challenges several swimmers each summer. Alcatraz to San Francisco had been attempted time and again by prisoners and masochists alike, and even Puget Sound attracts swimmers.

But no one but a few brave souls has ever considered swimming from England to the United States until recently. Now, according to a newspaper story, a man has risen to the challenge, and somewhere in the broad Atlantic, he was plugging along, making headway but getting just a bit tired. 

He had, at that time, four months to keep on swimming to reach his goal. I figured it would take him about two months to go if the sharks continue to keep their distance. His only contact with the human race was by radio now and then. 

What did it take to leave the boat and dive into the sea each morning? Some mornings, didn’t he sleep in too long? How alert must he have had to be in case a shark nipped at his toes? 

What would he see if he looked at the sky and or out in the distance in the middle of nowhere — a distant ship, a clump of seaweed, schools of friendly fish or the darkness of the depths of the ocean?

Ten, 15 hours a day — stroke, stroke, stroke. Did he count double-time as he kicked? Did he think, “I can do it, I’ll show ‘em”?

Did he think of his home, his family, dry land and long to be there?

Did he, like me now, relive scenes of the past that he wished he could change? Or did he dream of the future, hoping his feet would be his key to fame and fortune? 

Did he plan all the wonderful things he would do when he sells his story to TV? 

Or did he think about being home once again, having a drink before dinner in front of the fire and giving a child a helping hand with homework — if he could just survive?

Did he think about what he’ll have for dinner? Or fantasize about a gourmet dinner at an elegant restaurant, or best of all, did he dream of a hot cup of tea, almost tasting it, boiling the water, adding a heaping teaspoon of Darjeeling, adding sugar and cream and serving the fresh cup of tea in his own special mug?

Then he realized how far away that cup was. One hundred twenty days alone, swimming morning till night.

Every day, I see swimmers dive in and take off into the waters of Lake Washington, and I recall the Atlantic swimmer. 

What did he think about? I have no answers, but I can’t help to wonder.

ROBERTA COLE, a Madison Park resident, writes about seniors’ issues. 

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