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February 17, 2007

The Sea

I swim in the sea most days. I run along the beach and slip into the English Channel before running back up the hill to my apartment with its warm bath and raspberry-scented black-red roses against a white sun-splashed wall. Sometimes, particularly when it's cold, I start out not wanting to be in the icy water, but by the time I am warm from running I find it easy to wade through the waves and dive underneath.

This boost to my circulation, immune system, and will power takes only a few minutes. As I walk, naked except for running shorts, towards the fiercely foaming force-of-nature there is a distant memory of resistance, but I have committed and there is every reason in favor.

The cold envelopes my body as I dive over and into a wave that would otherwise sweep my feet from beneath me. The daylight can barely penetrate the sandy surf the color of a jam jar filled with artists brushes encrusted from painting beaches and craggy headlands.

And as I swim out over waves that obscure the sky and threaten to engulf me in their air-free hugeness, I feel fear in my heart and a chill that oozes through each subcutaneous layer in turn until it begins to bite into my bones and my feet scream for the shore.

Over my shoulder I see a wave chasing me, a hopeless bug struggling in the meniscus, as the force of my arms is challenged by the wash drawn under me, feeding that swelling monster. I turn to look along the ridge of water as it pulls up against the pebbly drop-off and towers above me before pounding my body onto the bed of smooth stones.

In the dark silence, pressed against a thin, lumpy mattress of compressed water, I feel myself being drawn back and down into the drop-off. I remember: relax and curl up. And then I am rolled, surrendered and naked, into the shallows, my feet gripping their goal as the retreating sea pulls at my knees and I desperately struggle to find my breath before the next wave engulfs me.

As I stride back to my shoes and shirt, out of breath, cold on the surface and warm in the middle, I know that I have been given everything that I need for my journey; I take with me the force of the sea; entrusted not because I have mastered it but because I have allowed it to master me.

"You are an incredible man — you never fail to amaze and inspire me. I love the glimpses of how to see the world differently and thereby put it into perspective again." — Diane (London, UK)

"Nice Poetry Duncan; thanks for sharing." — John (Sacramento, CA, USA)

"I love this ... Thank you for sharing your writing gift." — Rosie (Washington State, USA)

"Oh Duncan! Once again you speak to my heart. Once again you paint pictures in my mind. And once again every cell in my body responds as if I were in the water also. Thank you." — Trish (Thousand Oaks, CA, USA)


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