Updated: Aug 11, 2021
A bike ride towards the Chennai city limits, near the airport after a railway crossing near Pallavaram forest there is a dusty little village where we went to hunt for an abandoned quarry. We finally found this quarry lake and managed to find a path tucked beneath a truck workshop. The downward path filled with flowers and butterflies finally opened out to this vast expanse of water blue green in colour. The other end of the quarry was easily 2km away and the grey cliffs surrounding the lake 100mts high.
I had gone there to go for a swim but i was frozen by fear, a sense of terror was preventing me from getting into the water. I had been a swimmer all my life, one of the fastest swimmers in the country. The swimming pool was like home to me but why was I feeling this fear stopping me from getting into the water? Unlike all swimming pools I’ve been getting in all my life this was Wild Waters. I did get into the water that day. These are just a few of my insights into going wild.
In Wild Waters you have no control over anything: the wind , temperature, clarity of water. Nature is unpredictable. We are just among the trillions of creatures present in that lake, they are oblivious of us not even coming to inspect this alien that got into their water. How do we tackle this uncontrollable force of nature? ,we do not. We just accept nature is above us and prepare for whatever possibilities that we might face.
I did prepare. I carried whatever I thought I might need when you get into a wild source of water: I had a fear that I’d get caught in fishing lines, so I carried a blade; a bright cap on the head for more visibility, a whistle so I could be heard in case of a distress call. These just gave me confidence, but I realized what I needed to carry most: a flexible mind ready to face whatever challenges that came my way.
I had to train my mind and it was a slow process. There are three zones of experience in our minds, the comfort zone, the learning zone where we are challenged adequately and the panic zone where we are overcome by challenge.
Not getting into water would have been the comfort zone for me. When I did venture in, there were moments of sudden movements in water due to the wind, and I found myself panicking - my panic zone. Eventually, I would swim up to a distance I’m comfortable with and come back. I had established my learning zone. And each time, I would stretch that learning zone by swimming farther and farther.
Everyone's zones would vary greatly hence its important to know yourself really well before going wild. Try sticking to your sweet spot, that's the learning zone. Essentially being wild is simply about being comfortable in an environment others are not.
I’m now very comfortable swimming in any body of water. Being in the wild has taught me this much. Being in nature has taught me to be wild inside. Being in the wild can teach us how to handle the chaos we might come across in our everyday lives. When we lose our jobs, relationships or something bizarre like this pandemic, we encounter a chaos similar to what we face in the wild. We must be prepared and get creative with our solutions. It is when we are in the wild that we learn. So next time if you ever get into a rut and want to be more creative, take a walk in nature or better a swim.