Yesterday I treaded water, for what was possibly the first time ever.
There’s a modest chance that I learned the trick during swimming lessons as a little kid, but if so, I have no memory of it whatsoever; so arguably, this was my first go-’round with it. You’ll notice, by the fact that I am here today to type this ‘Tract, that I did not die. I did get a mild sunburn, but the only takeaway from that is “sunscreen is your friend, especially at the naked pagan beach”. So yesterday was a Total Triumph in my book, sunburn notwithstanding, and I realized that I accidentally had a minor epiphany along the way.
Here’s the deal: I’m a fatchick with trust issues. I know, I know, nothing particularly new there; but yesterday we were hangin’ out at the lake (which is rapidly becoming our Official Weekly R’n’R Adventure) and had gone into the water and were paddling around with those foam noodle things (blue and purple for me, thankyouverymuch), and I was out in water over my head (continuing my theme of Total Triumph from last week), and was having a lovely time floating vertically like a buoy when it occurred to me that I was kinda sorta doing what I suspected might be the leg-kick-y thing involved in Treading Water For Realsies. So I asked Moon Man, who is a total fish, how one might go about Treading Water For Realsies, y’know, just academically speaking; and he explained it; and I realized that yep, that’s pretty much what I was doing, except for the arm part because my arms were currently full of foam noodles. He suggested that I should perhaps give it a go, and I suggested that perhaps he not put any carts ahead of any horses, and we went on bobbing.
And while I was bobbing, I was thinking: when I was a kid, I loved swimming lessons. I was good at it, and it came easily to me, and it was this Useful Thing That I Could Do; but as I got older and started developing my body issues, I stopped going to the pool–not because I didn’t like the swimming part; I liked that part quite a bit–but because I didn’t like being seen in a swimsuit. And by the time I reached adulthood and hit that snapping point where I no longer cared enough to let the fears stop me (though my bff and I did make it a point to go swimming only at the little secret cove in the lake in my old hometown, and only when there weren’t many people around…so, y’know, while not stopped, per se, I was still making concessions), I had forgotten pretty much everything I’d ever learned about how to swim. The net result: I absolutely, positively, would not go into deep water, because I wasn’t entirely sure I could get myself back out; and when it’s just you and your bff out there, you’re not 100% sure that anybody could get you back out. And I didn’t really feel like dying in the lake and having some poor coroner have to come haul my waterlogged body up onto the shore. Ew.
So I didn’t swim for such a long time that I forgot how to swim, because I was too afraid to be seen in public in a swimsuit; I’ve retained some basic theory, but that’s pretty much it.
But then yesterday, there I was, bobbing in the water. Nekkid as a jaybird, which really tends to eliminate the “oh, god, people will see that I’m fat” hangup. At the naked pagan beach, where people simply don’t care that you’re fat. Getting a mild sunburn on my shoulders. And a few truths slammed home all at once:
1. I was there with Moon Man, my loving husband, who had promised to support me as I strive to live my life to its fullest, and who would presumably be at least a little bit sad if I died; and
2. We were within easy earshot of the beach, as Mr Shouts Everything Including Lame Jokes While Swimming Around had amply demonstrated earlier; and
3. Last week we’d observed half a dozen folks hop up from their reading, snacking, and otherwise lounging on the beach to come into the water to help a gal who was struggling to get onto a pool float, so one could probably reasonably assume that they would also be willing to come help if I tried to drown and Moon Man needed a hand with preventing that; and
4. The very laws of the universe itself would prevent me from dying, as long as I didn’t get tied to the bottom or conked in the head by a passing speedboat or anything, and did I mention that there are no speedboats on this lake? I am, quite simply, too fat to drown (too big to fail?) as long as nothing’s holding me face-down.
So, y’know, what would you do if you knew you could not fail?
So armed with that knowledge, all I had to do was trust–trust my husband, trust the nice strangers, and trust the laws of physics. Please take a moment to review the title of this post, and to recall that I have trust issues.
But y’know what, sometimes you have to decide that your own hangups aren’t worth it anymore. They’re not serving you, and besides (I reasoned), if I’m going to find out in one fell swoop that my husband whom I love and these friendly strangers who all seem like very nice people are all completely untrustworthy, then I’m pretty sure I don’t want to live in that world anymore anyway.
So I pushed my foam noodles toward Moon Man, and I treaded water.
It took me approximately 0.0000001 seconds to figure out the arm component, and before I had time to think “boy, I hope I don’t die”, I was already not dying. I was already succeeding, because a) treading water is really not all that hard; and b) I finally had the good sense to get the hell out of my own way and just go for it. I had the guts place my trust in someone I loved, plus a whole batch of people who generally try to avoid bad karma, plus a Universal Law or two. And much to the surprise of nobody except myself, it worked. Go figure.
Moon Man suggested that perhaps, given my triumph, I should consider diving off the dock next. I suggested that perhaps Moon Man would like to rethink the way he uses foam noodles, i.e., he currently seems very stuck on using them externally. But really, who knows? There’s plenty of swimmin’ season left, and I seem to be trying at least one new thing each week.
Now I just have to remember to pick up some sunscreen before next week’s outing, because I intend to try to learn the breaststroke next week, which means my butt will be getting a lot of sun, and I am absolutely not prepared for life with a sunburned butt.