Imagine that you are in a dark, dreary ocean: The waves are lapping against your chaffed and broken skin, drenching you in icy cold water. There is a frigid breeze that whips your hair around, causing you to lose sight. You spin around and around, only to see green water and grey sky. There are no birds, no boats, and no noise other than your heart beat and the rolling of the waves. You tread water for a while, trying to think. The water around you is oblique, concealing the bottom. You have no idea how deep the water is, how far away the nearest shore is, nor what may be lurking right under your feet. It doesn’t matter, though.
You know that you can get through anything and this is just a hard time in your life. So you swim. You know not whether you are swimming East or West, closer or further, or how you got where you are now. But you just keep swimming… because that’s all you can do. There comes a time in everyone’s life when the waves get too big or the current gets too strong. You struggle to keep your head above the surface. You kick and claw at everything you can, but ultimately your head slips below the waves and you are forced to accept that things have gotten worse. When life gets like this, there are two options.
The first would be to just stop trying, to let yourself slowly sink lower and lower and feel the relief flood your heart as the water floods your lungs. Then there would be no more pain, no more hurting, you might even be happy. The dark colors in your life will be replaced with fluorescent white and you will float into what seems like a room full of that feeling that you always wanted from life, yet never could achieve. You close your eyes and dream about this saving grace as your heartbeat slows, stalls, then ultimately gives out.
Then you remember the second option, and you let your eyes snap open, seeing all of the other bodies sinking and sinking lower around you. You know that swimming won’t do anything but drown you faster. There are others that are trying as hard as they can, and they’re only a few strokes above you. It’s hopeless, everything that you struggle and suffer through is just to prolong the decay of the body you’re tortured in. Why even bother anymore?
Because there is just some sick little parasite inside of you that makes you want to try your hardest at everything. You reach above you, kick a little, and wonder how you’re even accomplishing this without air. You see the people who gave up sink lower, while you stroke harder to go higher. Your heartbeat pumps faster and louder with each movement, and others watch you swim past them. Just as you’re about to reach the surface, you feel your body start to falter. Your arms shrivel, your legs cramp, and you freeze.
“No. This, this can’t be it…” you think. You use the last fighting power that you have to urge your brain and all its might towards the surface. Your lungs feel as if they are going to cave, your heart is beating faster than seemingly possible, and your brain is working so hard it feel like it’ll burst out of your head. With your last fighting pulse, you push your fingertips to breach the surface. That’s it, you’re done. There is no possible way that you can resist anymore — you’re too weak.
Air bubbles cascade out of your mouth and towards the surface, which is looming further and further ahead of you. You close your eyes again, for the last time, coming to terms with the end. What you didn’t know is that someone saw your finger break the surface, saw the air bubbles and struggle. It matters not who they are, but what they are doing. They dive under the water, a place most people would never voluntarily go, and grab your hands. You feel the dense, cold water move against your sore skin. Then, you feel the water peel away from your face, then neck, until you’re bobbing along above the water. And breathing. You can feel your lungs expand as you choke out a few cups of water, then gasp for the precious air that seems endless yet you still can’t get enough.
You’re okay. You’re alive. No matter what happens, you can get through any storm… as long as you just keep swimming.