This week’s guest is Lindsey Cole. People in the wild swimming world might be familiar with Lindsey, from her swimming the length of the Thames in November 2018 wearing a mermaid tail to draw attention to the problem of plastic in our rivers and oceans.
In February 2019 Lindsey set off from Totnes, heading for Taymouth Marina in Scotland to swim at the Scottish Winter Swimming Championships. She planned to get there by bike, cycling every day, but with no set route or accommodation planned more than a day or two in advance. The direction she took emerged organically each day, as other wild swimmers answered her daily social media appeals for individuals or groups she could stop and swim with. From those people she also sourced accommodation, finding connections with people through wild swimming that enabled her to gain insight into the vast array of paths that can be taken to having a good life. Wild swimming was the common thread through those diverse lives.
After the Scottish swimming championships, not yet ready to end the adventure, and without a home as such to return to, Lindsey continued with her daily cycle into the unknown. As this podcast goes live, Lindsey is still on the move, finding new people to swim and stay with each day.
Two things struck me from our conversation – what criteria we use to judge how successful our lives are, and what we really need to make us happy.
It can be easy to look at other people, to see what they have got or achieved and to compare ourselves unfavourably. Whether it is the job, house, car and kids that are seen as the markers of success, or the lack of them that is assumed to bring freedom, adventure and creativity, we can all get sucked into feeling that we don’t measure up somehow.
This can lead us to pursuing the wrong things – not the things that will truly make us happy, but the things that we think will signify success. It can be hard to live a life that feels true for us. There can be so many external pressures, not least on social media, that can make us aspire to things that at best don’t make us happy, and at worst make us really miserable. So how can we bravely make choices that feel congruent with our soul? To follow the path that will bring us the most joy?
At the moment, everything in my life is up for question. Where I live. The work I do. Who I spend time with. What I spend money on. Where I travel to. What difference I want to make. What matters. What I can let go of.
The answers are coming slowly. Each person I speak to for the podcast unknowingly gives me a gift – an insight which helps me find the answers to these profound questions. Lindsey’s gift was to just get me thinking about how much of life needs to be planned in advance and how much can be left to emerge organically.
Things we talk about
Thames swim in a mermaid tail, Cold Water Swimming championships, right to roam, Lewis, Skye, Shetland, Orkney, Outer Hebrides, Lindsey on Instagram, Amy Liptrot – The Outrun, free diving, plastic in our oceans, Alcatraz swim, Outdoor Swimming Society Champions, Jenny Landreth