Every time I stand or sit on the beach, I regret not knowing how to swim. I wish that I had learned how to swim when I was a little girl. But, as I wrote before, my mother did not let me learn to swim, ride a bike, or skate, stating that I might get hurt or killed. Ironically, she let my oldest sister learn all of these skills. It is why I did not learn to drive a car until I was 50 years old. I overcame my fear of the other drivers on the road and my nervousness, but I waited too long to try swimming.
I made sure my children learned to swim, and never even thought of taking lessons, thinking that I would never need them. As the years went, I watched grandchildren learn to swim, and I felt so shamed that those babies could do something that I feared.
But, when I started traveling to places surrounded by water for my leisure activities, I decided to take swimming lessons. So, at age 52, I arrived at the pool, and for the first couple of days, all we did was float with our hands firmly planted on the side of the pool. We learned to breathe underwater, staying under longer each day, and I was feeling good about my progress, already envisioning jumping in the ocean and swimming like a fish, executing breast strokes and racing Douglas through the waters.
Then, I was told to let go of the side of the pool. Not a good thing! Immediately my mind thought that I was in the middle of the ocean, and I started thrashing for all I was worth, trying to get to “land.” The poor young woman teaching me tried to calm me down, but I had lost all sense of reality. Gulping down chlorinated water by the gallon it seemed, I panicked, and I started to pummel her, thinking she trying to prevent me getting to safety.
She started screaming, but I could not understand what she was saying. After a few minutes, I finally heard her say, “Put your feet down! You are going to drown us both!” I finally felt my feet touch the bottom of the pool and felt safe. I nearly drowned us both in four feet of water!
Afterwards, I asked her when was my next lesson, and she did not stand on ceremony when she told me that she didn’t think I needed to take any more lessons. She explained that people should learn to swim when they are children, even as young as babies and toddlers, meaning before they come to see the water as a frightening place.
This debacle with swimming taught me a valuable lesson: don’t wait too long to learn the things that matter to you. Now, all I can do is dream of what it would be like to swim in the beautiful blue waters. I am a spectator, rather than a participant, as other people are surfing, snorkeling, swimming, and sailing. They look so happy and at peace as they move through the water seemingly effortlessly.
Whatever you fear learning today, do it while you are still capable of learning it. Don’t let your fears rob you of the opportunity to do something you truly wish to do. You are not alone. Isaiah 41:13 states, “For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.”
Don’t be a spectator when participating is so much more rewarding and life-affirming. Jump into whatever it is and have a good time doing it.