This week I am returning to do a second interview with a guest I spoke to back in June 2019 – Dean.
In his previous episode, he shared with me his experience of swimming the length of the Wilamette river, and how, somewhat inexplicably, this helped his recovery from cancer.
After an hour of chatting he tried to move on to tell me about how he then went on to swim the length of the river Shannon, but I stopped him, as it felt like a whole new chapter. I wanted to give that second adventure as much time and space to reveal it’s lessons as his Wilamette swim had had.
In talking to Dean again, I was really struck this time by the grief he had experienced. In our first conversation, what I had heard was the story of recovery from illness. But nestled within it, was a story of swimming through and beyond grief.
He says that grief can put you in such a fog. This time, his story reveals a sense of emerging from the fog, regaining clarity, and being alongside his daughter as she did the same, albeit a while later.
It is an interesting story of both accepting and not accepting what you have. Dean explains that he refused to just stay on his sofa and live out his days. Instead he was determined to get out and do an iconic swim – knowing that it could kill him, but at least he’d be an active participant. So he resisted his doctors’ assessment of his situation and the best course of action and fought for an alternative reality.
But in swimming the Shannon, he found he had to let go of his previous experience of the Wilamette, and let the Shannon be its own river. ‘Swim the river you are in’ was the advice he got as he battled against it rather than worked with it.
This is a fantastic exploration of rites of passage and inter-generational connection.
Things we talk about