Last summer I stood in a green bikini on a warm beach and stared at a spit of across the water, just before the horizon. The island across the channel looked beautiful to me. White sand, a few palm trees. Behind me, toxins rose from melting plastic over open fires. Sounds of a cock-fight, a baby cried, I heard the rough bark of a disturbed mutt. The water looked more inviting, the distant island: Utopia. I pulled my snorkel mask over my eyes and waded into the water. Feet, ankles, knees, and then a dive. I swam.
The shallow turquoise turned to teal, turned to olive, turned to murk. Kelp gave way to coral to farther from the shore I swam. And I, with my mask, swam until I could only make out vague shapes on the bottom. Here, I stopped and lifted my head from the water. I felt tired, and I thought, I must be close to that next island. I looked towards the horizon. Utopia looked hardly any closer than when I had first stepped into the ocean. A tinge of dread wriggled through my body. I felt the current and the splash of the waves against my arms. I turned towards the melted plastic and the discontented dogs. The next island appeared in the distance as a shimmery beach lifted out of the ocean by blue-green chop. The distance was further than I had thought.
I treaded water between the two islands were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. My body tossed like nothing by currents that I could not see. I cried out. I yelled. I raised my arms and kicked my legs and screamed, but no one could hear me.
Sink, or swim, but the only way to my Utopia was stroke by stroke.
So I swam. Each stroke, a deliberate decision to press forward. I pushed back gulps of fear and thoughts of quitting with paddles. Long, Long, Hard-Hard-Hard. Breathe. I kicked harder, driving the fear from my head with a burn in my thighs. Long, Long, Hard-Hard-Hard. Breathe. I focused on the stream of bubbles plumbing from my nose. I had to make it to that island, I decided.
On any given day, the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions. Thirty-five-thousand opportunities for change, to pursue our own Utopia. This month, many of us look towards the future with hopes for growth and becoming, in some way, better than we were before. We see resolutions and commitments as ways to ensure doubt improvement: The Silver-Bullet Solution To A Better You! A deep channel, conquered with one, shiny, Resolution Bridge. If only there was such a thing.
After two hours of swimming against the current, I stood on that Utopian beach and stared back across that channel. I looked at the approximate spot where I had stood earlier that day. The distant beach looked pristine, inviting, with white sand and a few palm trees. The ocean danced, sun glistening jewel-tones on the tiny peaks of wind-blown faces. And I thought to myself, how far away that island seemed. And that there was no going back.