Thursday, April 2, 2009

Writing Prompt: Swimming

When I settled down to think about what “swimming” meant to me, different scenes flash across my internal screen.

First, we are floating down the Jack’s Fork River in Missouri in canoes. There are many bright colored canoes filled with kids from my church group and their parents. There is a sensible older couple in one canoe, with all the food for safe keeping. We kids are strung out on the water, bright orange life vests glowing in the afternoon sun, splashing and paddling, laughing and stroking … it is a marvelous memory. When we get hot, we dump the canoe. We swim and back float in the gentle current of the river. The surface water is very warm, but the deeper you let your legs hang down, the cooler the water. We forget that it is hard work to get the canoe righted and pull ourselves back in. I remember one time when we saw a shiny triangle coming through the water at us as we set in our canoe. Someone calls out that it is a water moccasin, very poisonous and totally freaky. They have been known to crawl into boats so we smack our paddles flat on the water and turn him away from our flotilla. A few very frightening moments.

Second, I am setting at lunch with my dear friend and we are discussing what we are doing to make it through these trying times. She told me about her dream of being in the river. She saw herself swimming against the current and realized how tired she was getting. She was scared and didn’t know if she could make it. I could totally relate to the fear. With her dream as a teacher, she told me how she was trying to look at every situation differently; to keep her head above the water, to get a sense of how to navigate gently and easily around the obstacles. I have been using the technique myself and I love the feeling of being a leaf in the water and flowing gently with the water and staying on course while exerting very little energy. Since I don’t know exactly where we are going, why should I resist the easier path? As if I needed to cement in these ideas, I am finally reading the Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff. Winnie-the-Pooh doesn’t even know that he has it all figured out. He is my new hero.

Thirdly, I see myself snorkeling in the waters of Tahiti, one of my more amazing vacations. I am new to snorkeling, but enthusiastic. I do have a small amount of trepidation of being in large bodies of water. Born in Missouri and moving to Colorado, I have been land-locked all my life. I am drawn to the water, but it takes courage to enter because in the back of mind I see paralyzing jelly fish and flesh eating sharks. But the sky is blue, the sand is white and the water is deep turquoise; it is a perfect day and the fish are absolutely amazing. It truly is like a Disney cartoon. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I see a fish swimming right for my mask. I thrash backward and try to stand up but I can’t get me feet under me. Close to panic, I lurch out of the water and get my bearings. I chide myself and take a few calming breaths. GEEZ! Fitting the mask back on, I blow air through my mouthpiece and become one with the water again. But there he is again and he looks a lot larger this time. He darts towards me aggressively and veers off just before slamming into my mask. It is hard to appreciate his exotic brilliance when I see menace in his eyes. Seriously, I can see it and I can feel it. My heart is pounding and I am afraid he is going to bite my nose off. I totally forget that things underwater look much larger than they actually are ~ he appears to grow exponentially as the seconds pass. Round one goes to the darting menace. I rationalize that it is time for a Mai Tia and a stretch on the beach. I compose myself and nonchalantly exit the blue lagoon and leave that two inch beauty to protect its nest.

* annette

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