The first moment of stepping into the cool, dark water before the sun has crested the eastern horizon is uncomfortable. My body recoils from the chill of the water. I respond by lunging forward and submerging completely, the shock quickly turning into calm. Within seconds there is a smile on my face and I lay back and let the water take my weight, levitating me between the vastness of the ocean below and the sky above.
Getting into the ocean as part of my morning runs has become a part of my near daily routine here on Marco Island. It started on a morning back in early March when I realized that any day of my life when I was near the ocean, I should take the opportunity to bath in it. Though I have not been perfect in following through with this idea, more days than not find me submerging myself in the Gulf of Mexico before the sun has set.
Why do I do this? One reason is because I can, and while my body still has the physical ability to do things, I want to use it. But on a deeper level, there is something sacred in the act of returning to the place where life on this planet began. It helps me to remember who and what I am.
Many mornings while on my run I try to convince myself that today is not a good day to get into the water. Usually, my reasoning includes something to do with not having enough time, or that it is a bit too chilly out. But below all these excuses is the fact that I do not want to be uncomfortable. The chill of the water, the inevitable sand in my socks, and the feel of running the rest of the way home in wet clothes all bring varying levels of unpleasantness. Though I know I will benefit from the results of my action, committing to the discomfort of it is difficult every time.
I usually overcome the voice within me that wants to avoid being uncomfortable. I remind myself that almost everything worth doing in life involves discomfort at some point. I find a quiet place on the beach, take off my shirt and my running shoes, and get into the ocean. I have not once regretted it. I only regret the days I do not step into the sea.