The rhythm is comforting now, a routine of movement and breath. I keep my head down, watching the pattern of tiles and grout speed by as my arms and legs propel me through the clear water. Each kick is a little slower than each pull, but each time I surface I manage to grab the same, measured amount of oxygen. I watch my hands move through the water in front of me, small arrow-shaped paddles coming together and then fanning out, swooping down and sliding back up and into the lead.
“It’s like yoga,” I think to myself. “Yoga, but in the water — Woga!”
I’d giggle, but that would interrupt my lap and a quick glance forward lets me know that I’m getting close to the wall. Swimming is probably the closest I’ll ever get to meditation, but even that’s not saying a lot. I find it impossible to complete a lap without my mind wandering to one thought or another. Today I realized that a recurring theme in my swim-thinks is imagining what the other people in the pool area are thinking when they see me swim.
“Look at her! Slow and steady, but her form is IMPECCABLE! Look at how her hips stay level in the water!”
“She’s not in it for speed, and there’s not a lot of splashing… I wonder if she was a synchronized swimmer?”
And the swim team coach, whose swimmers are taking over ever single lap lane except for the one I’m in? He’s thinking, “Here’s a test boys and girls — swim NO FASTER than the girl in the farthest lane. Those who break ahead owe me an extra lap. This is about CONTROL, people!”
In a different scenario, the swim coach approaches me and asks if I’d be interested in joining the swim team. I argue that I’m not fit enough, but he argues that being a part of the team would help me to get in shape… and launches into a litany of reasons why I’d be a great addition to the team. If I was going to be really honest, there’s always been a part of me that daydreamed about being discovered. To have someone pick me out from a group of people and declare that I have “what it takes.”
In my dreams, I’ve been tapped to become an actress, an artist, a professional organizer, a wife, a zookeeper, a horseback riding film double for a famous celebrity, an animal trainer, a girlfriend, a set designer and now… a member of the swim team. As a neurotic perfectionist, my fear of failure (or, to be fair, my fear of not succeeding to the level I set out to achieve) keeps me from pursuing the things I find interesting through being a casual hobby and into a level of confidence and expertise.
Who knows? Maybe one day an opportunity will present itself for me to believe in my undiscovered potential, to push myself over the hurdle of my own imagined limitations and attempt the… possible.