When I was a kid I remember my mother taking me to this woman’s house who had a pool. She was a certified swim instructor but I remember not liking her very much. Two things really stand out in my mind. The first was I remember a sign she had that said, “We don’t swim in our toilet, so please don’t pee pee in our pool.” The second was far more traumatizing: I remember that in order to pass I had to swim all the way down to the drain. I can still feel the grip she held on my small wrist as she pulled us both all the way down to the bottom. My father had polio as a child and never learned to swim, so it was especially important to him that I learn. My mother loved to swim but with her red hair and fair skin she really needed to stay out of the sun. For years after that I was terrified to go underwater and, if truth be told, I am still afraid to even snorkel — much less scuba dive. I consider myself to be a good swimmer and was on the swim team in both junior high and high school. But that feeling of being underwater and fearing when you will finally rise to the surface has never left me. When I had my little girl the vital importance of learning how to swim had long been ingrained upon me. But things and times are very different now. They have indoor pools and different swim classes going in different lanes. In the school my little one attended each kid got a check once they’d mastered a certain skill. I feel she could save her own life now, after passing this particular class, but still I want her to be a stronger swimmer. So she will continue to swim once a week to build stamina and really learn the different styles. I snapped this picture of her when she graduated at a significant level. She was so proud holding all her ribbons. The British philosopher Alan Watts once said:
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”
It seems that so many things in life one is not simply able to grab hold of … instead one must relax, and float.