When I was a child, I never wanted to jump off the boat into the water. The only way that I learned how to water ski was because I was afraid to fall into the weeds, so I decided to never fall. I wouldn’t swim out to the buoys because I couldn’t see the bottom or I could see the weeds down below. I am not sure which was worse.
Today, I swam two point one kilometres (1.3 miles) across our local lake with over 1200 other swimmers. Six weeks ago, I couldn’t swim longer than 300 metres (984 feet) without putting my feet on the sandy, shallow bottom. Yup, swimming along the kiddy area trying to keep my heart in my body!
Over the six week, I trained with a group who met every Saturday. I listened. I watched. I put my head down into the water and did my best. Throughout the week, I swam with a new friend who was in a similar place as me. We made shrill shrieks as we entered the cool water. We swam together. We drank some lake water. We eventually went around and around those buoys, but we had never swam across the lake.
Today, I awoke to the still lake water. I watched it shimmer as the sun peeked out from behind a cloud. I watched excited, nervous, wide-eyed people, over five hundred newbies, get ready to swim across this lake.
And you know what happened? Within a few moments of starting the race, my leg got tangled up with a week. Right leg started kicking, my mind was annoyed. I had a choice.
Carry this weed throughout the race or shake it off and move on.
I kicked my right leg and off it slid and on I went.
Full of strength and grace.
Supported and lovingly held by this beautiful water.
Feeling like a dolphin, a mermaid or even a fish heading home.
I untangled more than that weed today.
As I swam head down, stroke by stroke,
I realized that that weed was a symbol of my emotions.
Am I willing to acknowledge where I am at in any given moment?
Am I will to shake it off, untangle the emotion and let it go?
Am I willing to swim my race, allowing the emotions to come, and just continue?
When you are swimming, there really isn’t much choice, but swim.
In life, there really isn’t much choice, but to live.
With our emotions.
Wherever we are in our stroke on the lake of life.
Riding the waves, like I did with my grief.
Finding camaraderie among people on the same journey, listening, learning.
With the strength and grace of practice, mental mindset and allowing myself to be.
While getting untangled by a weed.
I am post-race untangled here! Oh what a beautiful feeling!
(Note from the author: Thirty-nine minutes swimming in a lake will bring up such metaphors. I had the most mental clarity and mental “stillness” in that water today than I have ever had in any moment in my entire life! WOAH)