And all it took was something small – my first time swimming laps – suddenly I feel like the world is more accessible, more open, more willing to work with me.
Today was our last (really this time) snow day, and I made an ambitious list of everything I wanted to get accomplished. After writing lesson plans, getting ahead on grad work, going to a luxurious daytime yoga class, and going to the Ash Wednesday service, I finally pulled up to the Centennial Sportsplex.
It’s a big facility, but deceptively so – I had never been inside and always thought it was one of those chic modern gyms with fitness model clientele. Not so – to walk inside is to time travel to the 1970s.
Still, it’s got a huge, nice pool and it’s very close to our home. I decided it would suffice for my training.
I was very hesitant to get in the water. I had never been taught how to swim but didn’t think it could be that difficult from what I saw in the movies. After asking way too many questions to the poor girl at the front desk, I finally made it into the locker room and out again, wondering why I didn’t anticipate the near-nakedness having the effect it did on my feelings of fear and vulnerability.
I pause here to say that all I did was swim some laps. I didn’t risk my life. I didn’t even swim laps in front of more than a few people. But somehow I was afraid of the unknown, however pedestrian the unknown happened to be. It certainly made all those times I heard people say they could never do what I do seem much more relatable:
“I could never do yoga; I’m not flexible.”
“The only way I could run is if a bear was chasing me.”
“The only thing I can do is cheer from the sidelines.”
I always met these comments outwardly with a polite chuckle, and inwardly with extreme annoyance. What, do you think I was just born flexible? Do you think I laced up my running shoes an hour after birth? Health is work, people. Get over it.
Now I have a better understanding what it is to do something you’ve never done before, especially with the body. You and your body connect so well doing things you’ve always done together. Cupcakes? Sure. Walking? Ok. Running? After a few months…cool. No sweat.
But when you do something new, the connection is shaky, like trying to talk to your body on a toy walkie talkie. It’s hard to trust it to do the right thing.
My body did not do the right thing. My body needs to practice swimming. It is not as easy as it looks in the movies. Luckily, I met a very nice lifeguard named Shauna who taught me a few things and showed me how to get started. I swam my measly 200 yards, put some running clothes on, and ran a heavenly 30 minutes on the treadmill.
“Do something that scares you” is something I hear often, but that doesn’t often hit home. And when I try to, I find that I’m not really doing something scary enough. These first 24 hours after signing up for my first triathlon have made life more than a little scary, and that’s how I know I’m doing something right.