January 7th, 2011


Harold Holt's Memories

When I grew up, I was told the rules about the ocean: watch for rips, swim between flags, don't get too far out, don't get complacent. The story of Harold Holt, the prime minister of Australia who went out into the surf for a swim and did not return, is one everyone knows. In case you might forget, the people in Melbourne named a pool after him.

Until yesterday, I had never given Holt much thought, and today, I guess I still don't. I had never had a bad experience in the ocean, never got lazy, but I did, for just a moment in a strong current, and I found myself further out than I thought. It wasn't until I dived deep into the water that I realised the strength and the distance and, as I made my way back, honestly struggling against the tide, I came as close to throwing up my hand for assistance as I had ever done so. I didn't, though: I made it back onto the beach, looking like shit, and collapsed where I lay in the sun thinking about how stupid I'd been, how complacent, and how, at thirty-four, I really, really did know better.

You've had that moment, though, right?