I’ve been thinking lately about how we might act when we lack confidence or are trying something new, and seeing similarities with how little kids first learn to swim. (Disclaimer: I know that there are people who are capable and regularly just jump straight into the deep end with no interest in floaties or the pool wall, but I’m not one of them. I do suspect, though, that we all at times do need floaties or a pool wall.)
When we first start out we need the support that floaties give, there is just no way that we can go without them. We need someone or something alongside us pretty much the whole time.
And then there comes a time when, in truth, we no longer need the floaties but we just like them there, we need them for the sense of security they bring. We desire the near-constant presence but don’t need to lean on them anymore.
And then it is time to go without the floaties, to go it alone. When we are at a depth where we can touch the bottom and have our head above water it is easy to do it alone. But as soon as we reach a depth where we need to start to work to keep our head above the water, that’s when we become thankful for the pool wall. That solid, reliable presence that we can return to when we get a bit tired or things get a bit much, before pushing off and swimming out on our own again. Over time, as our confidence and stamina increases from spending time out practicing, we need the wall less and less often, and are happy to put more and more distance between us and the wall, but it is still a comfort to know that it is there and we can return to it whenever we need.
Thinking back over the last several years I can see that I’ve had different people, at different times, be there for me as either a floatie or a pool wall. The floaties have been those people who had the patience to come alongside me and hold my hand as I tried something new, to be there with me and remain beside me. The pool walls have been those people that I have looked up to and respected for their strength, who have watched from the side lines and checked in on me, and who have been there when I’ve reached out. And I think there have been some people who have been both at different times, fulfilling whichever role was necessary.
Feeling thankful tonight for those who have helped me stay afloat when I have felt like I could have drowned. And also feeling thankful that I no longer have the same reliance on floaties that I once did. But I still think it will be a while before I do any swimming without the knowledge of a pool wall being within swimming distance.