There is an inner peace having completed a goal 2 years in the making, quite different from the restlessness that arose from my failed attempt in 2011. (An albeit completely ill-prepared attempt). But that devastating experience drove me to today and propelled me into action. This was a learned reaction, drawn distinctly from 6.5 years ago when I nearly lost my leg and faced a very probable lifetime of disability. Rather than post-traumatic stress, I was able to address my fears, push my limits and experience post-traumatic growth (Nassim Taleb).
Though on a much smaller scale, I knew with the Channel I needed to take action to achieve that goal I so dearly wanted. I needed to push aside my disappointment and face the Channel again. I vowed to myself that I would return as prepared as possible. And compared to every other swim I have completed, I was. The experience was strangely calming but not what I’m used to because there was no suffering. My training had paid off and I am fortunate to be unburdened by “what ifs.” This time, discipline truly was the bridge between goals and accomplishment.
As the dust settles on the aftermath of my English Channel swim, I notice that I feel different. The extra body weight I purposely carried across the Channel to insulate myself – my vessel - has disappeared. Yet I remain in continual amazement with the ability of my body to adapt and meet the expectations of my mind. Being a woman in a world obsessed with weight and appearance, it was especially fascinating to embrace the idea of gaining weight. At times uncomfortable, I knew it had a distinct purpose. Emerging from swimming over 12 hours across the Channel without shivering, I proved to myself that this was indeed worth it. And, so, as I bid a fond farewell to my body armor, I look forward to reuniting next year. It will most definitely come in handy for future challenges.
More importantly, inside I feel different, slightly older. A few more wrinkles define my soul - and I am definitely more at peace. As the enormity of my experience percolates, my soul shifts and morphs from day to day. Sometimes I'm struck by a fleeting recognition and appreciation of my swim. My internal monologue loops deliriously with "My god, I swam the English Channel!" Other times, I'm clouded by disbelief of what happened and I find myself drawn to photos and video – the tangible "evidence."
Not that I am much of an American Football fan, but as Vince Lombardi said, “The greatest accomplishment is not never falling, but rising after you fall.”