Those tiny fragments of the past,
Like jewels I scattered underfoot,
To be picked and viewed underneath
The jeweler’s microscope
In finest detail it is seen,
Enjoyed enough to bring us hope.
I constantly hear that we shouldn’t dwell on the past or fret about the future and I think that’s brilliant advice. I totally agree that mindfulness and living in the present is the answer to a lot of our problems in the modern world. However, I also think that remembering the good times and thinking about nice things that could be happening in the future can be really soothing when nerves are frayed.
I don’t know about you but I have lots of memories of times that weren’t even that great, but the moment itself, made me feel so alive, and those are the moments that I like to reflect on when I’m struggling in the present.
One memory that keeps bubbling up at the moment dates from 2012 when I was training for my first English Channel swim. Every weekend I would drive down to Dover and go and train with the other crazy swimmers for six hours a day. We would just swim up and down the length of the harbour, whatever the weather. It was monotonous and cold and miserable but I knew that I had to do it if I was going to swim to France.
However, there was this one day that I remember more vividly than all of the others, when we had been going for about three hours when the heavens opened. It poured down so heavily that I couldn’t see the beach or any of the other swimmers. I could probably only see a couple of feet ahead of me and it was just a little bit scary.
But I kept paddling with my head up, the rain pelting my face so hard that it actually hurt. I was glad that I had goggles on to protect my eyes. And just as I was starting to feel a bit anxious about the fact that the coastline had completely disappeared from view, one of the other swimmer let out an enormous shout.
It wasn’t a shout of fear or pain though. It was more of a war cry; a whoop. I instantly went from fearful to full of… life. In that moment I realised that I wasn’t alone, bobbing around in the ocean; I was surrounded with wonderful people who were all experiencing something quite breathtaking with me. Just because I couldn’t see anybody else, it didn’t mean that I wasn’t sharing the journey.
As the rain eased and I got my head back down for the remaining three hours, I reminded myself that I should not let go of moments like that. I should remember them and cherish them. Those moments when life is so raw and so human and I am so very much at the mercy of mother nature. They are the moments we should dwell on when we struggle.