Saturday, December 21, 2019

Everything that actually matters

“Everything that actually matters, John, happens beneath the surface.”

"When I was learning to swim, a powerful yet diminutive athlete—my 5-foot mother—gave me a tip: “Everything that actually matters, John, happens beneath the surface.” At the time, I thought this was nonsense. I wanted to be seen. My splashing and thrashing were visible signs of my speed. My mother just shook her head: They were signs of something, but definitely not speed."
These sketchbook watercolors are from a trip I recently took to South Carolina, my first visit to that state and area of the country. I stayed on the coast on Pawley's Island, part of the great barrier islands facing the Atlantic Ocean. Now I live in the Chicago, Illinois area and do not get a chance to swim in the ocean very often so I was quite excited to plunge into the waves. Happily the water temperature was mild enough for swimming even in the month of October. I was out there delighted with the water and waves when suddenly I was caught by an undertow that swept me out beyond the barrier rocks faster than I could catch my breath. The happy end of the story is that I did not drown, I managed to paddle along the beach until someone gave me a hand and pulled me in. Lesson learned- the Atlantic Ocean is much more powerful than I knew and underneath the surface there is much happening that matters.