I didn't take to the water naturally when I was a kid. My mom didn't know how to swim and for some reason, I absorbed her fear. When I was in first or second grade, she signed me up for a week of swimming lessons at the public pool, two hours per day for five days. For the first eight hours, I sat on the edge, my feet dangling in the soft, cool blue water, the scent of chlorine filling my nostrils, while I watched friends splash and swim and enjoy themselves.
I don't know what I was afraid of. It went completely against my character to be afraid of something of that nature. And in reality, the water in the section of the pool where we were taught wasn't over my head. If I'd felt myself struggling when I swam, all I would have had to do is stop beating the water and stand up.
But my fear kept me firmly affixed to the side of the pool for four days. The teacher patiently offered me opportunity after opportunity to join the class, and I politely declined each time.
On the last day of our lessons, I was suddenly motivated by the realization that the promised trips to the public pool throughout the summer were dependent upon me being able to swim. Thoughts of being the only one left behind in the neighborhood full of kids in which I grew up compelled me to dig deep for some courage and jump in to join the rest of my class on the last day of the lessons. Fortunately, I was a quick learner. I even managed to swim the length of the deep end by the end of the lesson, enabling me to use the diving board throughout the summer.
I've been thinking about that experience all weekend. There's something strikingly familiar about that particular fear that has crept up on me over the past few weeks. And I can just feel that I'm on the verge of jumping in.
If I could just let go of the side.