Saturday, July 16, 2011


   "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."   — Nelson Mandela

   It's a remarkable feeling when you learn something you never thought you'd be capable of. As I've mentioned before, I've been afraid to try swimming since I was a child... when Kelley & I lied to Mom in order to get out of the swimming lessons in which she had enrolled us. We told her that we knew how to swim and it was too easy. (Ha!) So I waited until I was 34 to try again, mostly because I was compelled to try Scuba. I just had to learn to swim 200m.
   My first teacher was great, giving me all the basics. And Delissa has been amazing, building on that and making it all seem easy. Today she improved my freestyle yet again and evaluated my breaststroke—which she said looked entirely natural, and that I was one of the best of anyone she's ever taught. Even if it's an exaggeration, it was nice to hear! Then she proclaimed that she was going to teach me to flip forward and turn off the wall. That was about the time my heart stopped.
   I explained to her that I've tried before, in my first lessons and on my own, and that I was fairly terrified by it. I could somersault while holding my nose, but as soon as I tried it without that, I sucked down so much water and started choking. It was scary and unpleasant.
   She was unphased and said, "Let's try it. Swim up to the wall, dive down, push off the wall and corkscrew your body upright, dolphin-kicking, then switch back to freestyle. Hold your nose if you have to."
   It sounded complicated. I swam toward the wall, diving down, flipping, and ending up perpendicular to where I was supposed to land, with no wall to kick. Holding my nose was throwing me off completely. I attempted it a few more times, and got a little better each time. Our time was up and Delissa left. I was determined to practice a little more.
   Maybe having a pair of eyes on me was making me nervous, because I tried it three more times, then finally got up the nerve to let go of my nose. And you know what? I didn't die. And it gave me confidence. I tried it again and again until I could do it! Okay, not very well. But enough that I knew I'd have it in no time.
   I have my next lesson Monday night, and I can't wait to surprise her, though I'm sure she won't be half as surprised as I was myself. Most of my life I've been too tentative about things that intimidated me. No more. It's so fun and empowering to life without fear, and I'm learning that I can do anything when I set my intentions and work hard at it. And that feels amazing.

   I ran across this poem today by accident... or maybe not by accident?

Sweet Freedom
Imagine being free from worry. Imagine being free from the grip of fear.

Think of all that you could accomplish. Think of how much more energy and enthusiasm and creativity you would have.

In fact, you can be free from the worries and fears. You can be free from them in an instant if you choose.

For worry is your own creation. Fear is nothing more than a response you have chosen.

Freedom is sweet, and energizing and powerful. Know that you can be free whenever you choose, and the fresh, empowering breeze of freedom begins to waft throughout your whole life.

This is a beautiful day and you are magnificently blessed. Free yourself to experience the richness of it all.  — Ralph Marston