This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been meditating on the best way to write this one, so it’s been swimming in my head for the longest. I think with some of these posts as a blogger, the best thing to do is just to start writing and let the words try to form a coherent structure with which we hope we can express ourselves. Tonight is one such post.
So I have a fear. I don’t have too many of those really. But here’s one that the time has come to finally conquer.
This all began when I was 13. You see I had went to Myrtle Beach, is sunny South Carolina with my family for what was supposed to be a day trip. I will never forget it for as long as I live. I admit it was foolish to go that far out to sea but then again, what 13 year old boy doesn’t take risks on a day to day basis? My mother and sister sat on the beach soaking up the rays while I decided to get my feet wet. Well at first it was my feet. Then my knees. Then my stomach. What the hey, if the water comes up to my chest I’ll be fine, really.
I’m playing around flapping in the water (happily, I might add). For some reason, almost suddenly, the brightness of the sun was blocked. It got really dark, really fast. My back was turned and I was still having a great time. But I look over at my mother and sister. My mother, who had beautiful caramel colored skin, was suddenly pale white. My oldest sister, sitting beside her had her jaw drop with only muffled sounds coming out. I caught enough of a glimpse of her to see her pointing at me. What on Earth had grabbed her attention so much?
It was when I turned around that I realized she wasn’t pointing at me. She was pointing at behind me. And it wasn’t a solar eclipse that had blocked out the sun. It was the biggest wave I had ever seen in my life. It had risen so high, it seemed higher than the great wall of China. It was monstrous.
I didn’t get long to stand in its awe. In fact, it wasn’t long before I wasn’t standing at all. Down on me it crashed.
The force of water is awesome. It felt like a ton of concrete had been dropped on my head. It literally felt like bricks or mortar being flung at me. It slapped me in the face something horrible. I was knocked completely off my feet, and sent underwater, completely submerged. It wasn’t long before sand filled water over took my eyes, my nose, my lungs. I gasped for air. I tried to stand up and almost made it, but another almost equally as powerful wave came directly behind it sending me to the bottom of the water again. My head hurt. I couldn’t breathe.
What I also neglected to mention is that I also couldn’t swim. I was wading in the water for a bit and over estimated my ability to run back on land should a problem arise. Momentarily I floated, all four limbs above my body. I was completely powerless against the might of the Atlantic ocean. As the reality set in that today I might perish, I regretted not being smarter. Panic set in.
As a great, Pretty Lady might say, “Welcome to Fear”.
Time stopped. I remember that although I couldn’t breathe, I saw little particles of sand floating by me. Where there was light, a growing darkness started to overcome the light. The brown colored water began to get darker…and darker…
But the darkness can never overcome the light!
With a last bit of strength, resiliency and willpower, I steadied my body for one last fight. One last push. One final attempt. I will never go down unless I’m going down fighting! And I fought! Somehow I turned myself over and was able to grab something. Was it a rock, a reef, some poor swimmer’s leg? The hand of God? Whatever it was, I pulled on it and was able to flip myself over and pull myself back to far enough to my head could get out of the water and I could breathe. My strength began to grow and I righted myself enough to get out the water onto the land.
The last thing I saw was my mother and sister running towards me at full speed. Before they got there though, the next 10 minutes was spent upchucking salt water and sand from my stomach and lungs. My lungs hurt like someone had stepped on them! I was in pain. I had aches and pains a full week after. The memory of my sister and mother holding me to make sure I was okay, and my mother shouting obscenities at me for being so careless fills my head to this day.
I haven’t went that far into the water since.
I mean I lived in Wilmington for two years. I went to the beach and still got my feet wet. But I almost never went in beyond my hips, even after puberty hit and I got a couple growth spurts.
Today, I’ll sit in low pools. I’ll sit in jacuzzi’s. But that’s it.
And I have decided that that is not enough. This year is a year of freedom. A year of breaking old chains. A year of breaking any bondage that has kept me down.
I need to get over my fear of swimming. I no longer want to sit in the water. Or put my feet in it. I want to swim in it. Actually enjoy it!
I’m signing up for swim classes. I’ll be mid 30’s soon. Very soon. It’s time to get over an almost 20 year fear. If I can do it, anyone can. Maybe we don’t have to be slaves to fear. Maybe we don’t have to fear love, life, hurt, pain, failure, loss. All the negative of life.
Maybe there’s a better way. Maybe I can inspire someone. And if not, maybe I can inspire myself. But I want for someone who loves life and the beach as much as I do, the fact that I don’t swim is an abomination. It makes no sense.
So maybe I wrote this more so to myself than to the readers. But I think that if there’s any fear in your life you need to conquer, NOW is the time to do it.
Just do it. Do it SCARED if you have to. But just do it.
Love. Live. Ask that person for forgiveness. Forgive that person. Take that money risk (as long as it’s calculated). Ask him / her out for lunch. Finally pay off that debt that’s been plaguing you for years. Attack life by the horns. Show the world how beautiful you are…and don’t worry what they say about you.
That’s what really being heroic is, to me. It’s not realistic to avoid fear. But the true show of strength is to face it head on.
That’s what I’m doing from here on out. Starting in the swimming pool!
I’m actually conquering two fears. I’m super frightened of even posting this on a public forum. I’d like to keep my vulnerabilities and private fears…private. But that doesn’t serve me, my readers or those who look to me for inspiration. So instead, I proudly display those fears. For the world. And I say enjoy them while they last.
They won’t be here forever.