09 March 2010

The Swim

When I was a little girl, my mom made my sister and I attend swimming lessons every summer. I was always giddy with joy. I actually thought I was part mermaid (or at least fish) and if my parents permitted, I could easily live in a pool all summer. So at the mature age of 6, I was to embark on a journey to learn to swim "for real."

And learn, I did. Turned out I was so good, that I got bumped up to the next level of class, making me the youngest pupil in the bunch. I could hold my breath, tread water and kick with the best of them. But the true test- the test of bravery and advancement- was to swim in the deep end, all the way across that giant pool without stopping. The reward: a Hershey Bar. Heaven in squares, wrapped in foil, tucked neatly into brown paper.

I knew I could do it. The deep end was not scary, and I could certainly swim across the pool. When the day came to perform, I hopped into the pool knowing I would totally conquer the swim, not to mention show off my awesome swimming skills. The coach, an older man in a seriously ridiculous Spedo, would swim along side of me for the distance.

As I swam, he shouted. Arm over arm, turn head to breathe. Repeat. I made it half way. Coach kept shouting for me to swim. Two-thirds of the way. And then I found myself slowing down. My lovely and very long hair was flowing...in my face. I had to stop The Swim to clear the hair from my face and eyes. I remember the moment as vividly as if it had occurred yesterday. The Hershey bar would not be mine that day. The coach was one of those gritty South Jersey old guys you had to love. He was tough, but encouraging, "You can't take time to look pretty in the middle of a swim! Your hair should be up! Look how close you are! You could'a made it kid."

I took his words to heart and returned the following week with my hair firmly secured in a ponytail. The swim was successful. I was victorious and the chocolate bar was finally mine.

For whatever reason, I've been thinking about that experience a lot lately. I feel like I've been thrown in the deep end, told to swim across, and keep having to tread water. Have you ever felt like you've been throw into the deep end and are *this close* to the edge, only to find your hair (read: life, worries, anxiety, depression, your boss, your spouse, your finances, global warming- ok that last one is a stretch) in your face, causing you to pause and tread water, seemingly defeated? I do. I feel like that frequently of late. I feel like despite years of training, I still can't make it to the other side, Hershey Bar or not.

I've contemplated throwing in the proverbial towel, climbing out of the pool and walking away. It would be so easy to quit. But then what? What comes after you quit? Seriously? Do you scamper off to find a new life, a new hobby, a new spouse, new whatever to fill the space of your failure? Though tempting, that is not a logical option for me.

This kid is pulling up her hair and heading back for another swim. Another day in the pool. Another day I might not make it across. But not for nothing. I'll learn. I'll get stronger, I'll be a better swimmer, ready for deeper and swifter waters. And one day, you'll see, I'll make it to the other side. And heck yes, I want my (now metaphorical) Hershey Bar!


  1. i LOVE this post!!! I feel the exact same way right now Bebe...you are not alone my dear friend. You inspire me...Thank you so much.

  2. Your NJ dad thinks that your insight into life is absolutely wonderful. At least one of you inherited the positive, make lemonade out of lemons attitude. As far as I am concerned, the Hershey bar is in the mail. Expressing yourself in this way helps not only you, but others who may be in the same pool or boat. Keep up the great words of wisdom.