When you can't touch the bottom.
When I was young I loved to swim. I'm thin. I don't float very well. I took swimming lessons for years. I earned a Red Cross Junior Lifesaver certificate. I hoped to learn to scuba dive but didn't get that far.
I liked swimming underwater. I had a mask and snorkel and swim fins. I liked the experience of weightlessness. The underwater world was strange and foreign and so close. That was in sunny shallow water.
I spent my summers by a lake called Loch Lomond at my grandparent's summer place. I spent my days on and in the water. The lake was about half a mile wide at that point. The deep water was spooky. I remember being on the bow of a rowboat looking down into the depths. I could see rays of light converging at an invisible point down there someplace.
It was a bit terrifying for a small boy; I felt I was being drawn in and gripped the boat.
One day cousin Doug and I went over to the Minister's Face (a cliff across the lake) and I swam home across that deep water. I was fit and a good swimmer, so physically there was no problem and Doug was there with the rowboat if there was.
The water and the act of swimming was the same as in shallow water but I had a very vivid sense of being way above an unknown territory below. Since I don't float very well I was relying on my skill as a swimmer to keep from sinking into those depths. I found that swimming across the lake was quite different from swimming in shallow water. There isn't much to see. You just keep on doing the motions repetitively.
If it wasn't for the mild terror the experience would be boring.
As I approached the other shore I started to see the bottom. Then I could barely touch bottom with my toe. Relief!!! I kept on swimming because that was the only way to move forward. But the terror of the depths was gone
One of my friends from swimming lessons was a long distance swimmer. He'd do stuff like swim from New Brunswick to PEI in competitions. He was pretty fat. Not obese by any means. This guy was FIT. But his fat gave him two advantages for long distance swimming.
First, he didn't sink. If I float then the only part of me above water is the top of my head. He could float upright with water to his chest.
His fat was also insulation against the cold of water. When I was swimming I needed to get out of the water and warm myself in the sun quite often. That was part of the fun.
In a way humanity is swimming in deep water.
I feel that personally. I'm living on a pension now and am doing OK. But what if society changes and can't or won't provide the pension? In the vernacular; I'd be fucked.
How likely is a change like that to happen? When I look at politics I see a lot of people working to do exactly that - no more pensions.
Society as a whole swims through it's environment. We keep up on the surface by a whole set of interlocked actions that are like the swimming moves I was trained to do. If a part of the system that enables society to swim fails then society is in danger of sinking.
And we are beset with issues ranging from wars to culture politics to extreme weather to overfishing and overproduction. What could possibly go wrong?
What do you think?