A big swim. Welcome, 2016

About two years ago running by the beach took that place that usually my shower time occupied — the moment in which I unconsciously let myself wander and think about my days, my problems, my blessings, my life. And it’s incredible how breathing that wind that comes from the sea, full of salt, works as a fuel for my body and my mind as nothing in this world does. I’ve tried the park, around the lake; the bridge, over the river; the treadmill (where the only liquids are my boring water bottle and a lot of sweat). It’s not the same. The ocean has its own magic, its healing power.

I’ve always loved the sea. I grew up inside water, by the beach, playing with the waves until my fingers and toes were nothing but wrinkled. Being near the ocean is for sure one of the things I miss the most since I left my hometown and moved to the US. Although while living in Brooklyn I’m a subway ride and about an hour away from the coast, it’s just not as easy.

One of these days I was jogging by the bay, as I’ve been doing every single day since I came home, two weeks ago. Despite of the typical insane heat of Rio’s Summer (100F, feels like 110F), it was surprisingly pleasant. It was around 9 am, the sun already hotter than the ideal, and the breeze was simply amazing. Fresh, chill. As I ran facing that beautiful landscape that I love so much, feeling the air against my skin, I felt like I was swimming. And then I realized how for this whole past year I was swimming.

When 2015 kicked off, it was just like a crazy front crawl sprint, one of those in which you don’t even care to put your face out of water to inhale. I was just nonstop, pushing and pushing with my arms, kicking the water as fast as I could. Maybe this is a natural reaction for someone that six months earlier was thrown in a completely new water. Desperation kept me floating. As the first quarter passed, exhaustion took over and realized that this desperate drive wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) last forever. You need to stop at some point. Breathe. And find a sustainable pace to keep you moving yet safe and sound.

Less than 5 hours of 2015 are left for us here in Brazil, and I still have mixed feelings about this year. Can’t figure out whether it was good or bad. It was just hard, intense and demanding. Being away from your motherland going through a tough crisis may look easy for who sees it from outside, but it’s just as sad and frustrating. The tide has changed and we will never feel good about seeing the piece of land where you were born sinking. Not when it’s a place that holds so much of what you love, that has too many flaws and is so bad in several aspects, but still so special and takes such a big part of your heart. Personally, it wasn’t an easy year for me either. 2015 brought the consolidation of so many changes and the feeling of finally settling in a new environment. Not easy. It took me a while to understand that, as for anyone in this world, we hopefully have a very long journey ahead and inside the water consistency wins over speed.

A few months ago, after floating around for a while, I finally learned the breaststroke. Going slower felt comfortable and allowed me to enjoy the longer periods of time with my head out of the water. Look around, appreciate the beauty, get ready to go down into the deep blue again. It even made me try some dog paddle — fun breaks are necessary when you want to go far. As 2016 approaches, I feel like I’m swimming backstroke. Enjoying the ride. Looking up at the starry sky that is always above us, but we often forget — the same one that I got to admire in one of the most beautiful nights of this year, that I spent away from the city, into the woods, by a lake. It felt so good. As good as it feels when we remember that crossing this immense ocean that surrounds us can be scary, dangerous, lonely. But it’s life, and it’s beautiful. Unless you suffer from aquaphobia, what in the world can be as fun and delicious as this? Thinking of its nearly endless dimensions compared to our minimal size gives us fear, but also provides a different perspective. It makes us understand that we are just a tiny part of a big thing, and that’s great.

We can predict the tides, but there’s something uncontrollable about this ocean that will always make our future a big surprise. I truly feel that 2016 will be an exciting one. May this year teach us and make us swim medley. Hope it require us to be fearless and dive when it’s necessary, see the little goldfish and the turtles under us when the sky is dark and there’s thunder above our heads. I wish we choose to thrive but also float and enjoy the sunlight in our cheeks. I expect storms, big waves, lots of turns. And I can’t wait to face it.

Wish your New Year brings you a challenging, fantastic and unforgettable swim.

Happy 2016!