Well, me don’t swim too tough, so me don’t go in the water too deep. – Bob Marley
You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. – Rabindranath Tagore
I’ve always had a strange relationship with water. The places that give me the most peace and happiness are always by the water. But I also have a mad fear of getting in it when I know it’s over my head. My very first memory of deep water is of my mom holding me in a friend’s pool and as it got up on my chest, I thought it was going to suck the air right out of my lungs. My very first swimming lesson at the YMCA when I was 5 years old, I fell off the ladder on my way into the pool and sunk down under the water. It felt like an eternity until the teacher noticed and came to get me. When I was about 14 and went to the local public pool, this big bully (sorry Tommy if you ever read this) picked me up right when I got there and threw me down in the deep end. I found out quickly that I was not like those dogs that get thrown into the water and suddenly figure out how to swim. I stayed down there so long that I was trying to scratch my way up the wall and thought that this was surely going to be the way I would die. (But in Tommy’s defense, he was the one who saved me.)
It wasn’t until I was 29 years old that I decided to overcome this silly fear and just learn to swim. So I took private lessons twice a week every week until I could float, swim and even go all the way to the deep end of a long pool. After I’d mastered the mechanics of swimming, I had a stranger come to my house and try to hypnotize me out of the fear. But I still get pretty creeped out when I know that I’m above water that could swallow me up. As I stand by the water, a part of me wants to jump right in and get past the cold and the fear quickly. But another part of me thinks it might just be better to stay up here on dry land where it’s safe and warm.
I realized just this week that I have a tendency to treat life like a great big swimming pool. I get comfortable in a place and even though it’s not where I should be, I stay there because I’d rather stay safe and warm than to jump in, feel the cold, and, God-forbid, need a little help staying afloat. I do know that I’ve never regretted a time that I felt brave and just got in. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s letting fear drive my life. If I’m going to go down, I’d might as well go down knowing that I faced the unknown and lived this life in a way I can look back on with no regrets.