How often are we asked to display physical courage? Less and less often as we get older . We bank on it being somewhere inside, thinking that we have made so many mental leaps that took so much courage, so our physical courage must be on par too. We can leap when we need to, have to.
But I don’t think it really works like that. Our minds have been conditioned to pamper our bodies, make excuses of age and ill health for its bad shape and puffing and panting . We have our regular exercises, the ways in which we stretch or put our bodies to task but rarely do we try anything new. I keep talking about us, we, as in we the middle aged. But who Im really talking about is me.
As a non athletic, sedentary couch lover, my feet rarely leave the ground except to settle on something more comfortable. So asking me to let go of all support and float is asking my body to do things that it never has faced before.
Signing up for a 10day course in swimming made me very proud of myself. I was in love with that image, and truly thought no further than ‘Im going to learn to swim’. Actually entering the water, wearing a swimsuit (though that was vaguely floating somewhere inside), doing new things didn’t cross my mind. Once I’d joined up, the instructor would pull me through the paces and I’d come out a swimmer.
But signing up is barely the tip of the iceberg. I had to find the resources within me to lose inhibitions, to let go of the sides of the pool, to jump when asked to, to kick, move my arms, breathe and mentally let go.
As I stood shivering by the side of the pool today, gathering the courage to jump into 18’ of water, I noticed the kids who were part of the group. They have only two states. First the fearful stage, when they are scared to jump in. Once they do jump in and swim, then from on, they move to a fearless states and keep begging to jump. On the other hand, I have a third state. When I stand by thepoolside and psyche myself with thoughts like ‘Ican do it. God is holding my hand. I can swim,,,’ none of which actually help all that much. The only thing that really helps is jumping in again and again.
There seem to be certain times in life when we learn that we just have to let go , stop thinking so much and trust our instincts.