I was never a very good swimmer, I can do fine for the most part as long as I have a point to swim to and don’t stop or maybe just stay out of the deep end. I don’t have a complete fear of water, I don’t really like the idea that you can’t stand or walk on it but I don’t entirely fear it. I fear what is beneath it because I remember all the stories of the undertow and how the water will pull you out into the deep. Lets agree that water can be very soothing but it can also be extremely destructive if you underestimate it which is why it is best to know how to swim because you never know when you will be trying to escape the undertow.
I remember learning how to swim, or should I say being taught how to swim; needless to say I can’t forget it. I was young, maybe 5 or 6 years of age, and my father took me out into the water where it was waist-high for him; for me it was over my head and he had to carry me. That was the deepest water I had ever been in and I was terrified. The shore was along way from us and there was nothing but deeper water and whatever lurks beneath it behind us. My father never fully explained or gave me a choice to this bonding moment it was just “come with me” and me the child just went.
The first part of learning how to swim is to learn how not to drown; you must learn how to keep your head above water and float. My father laid me upon that water and held me up with his hands and told me that I needed to relax and float. All I could think about was Abraham, yep the one from the Bible and the one who was asked to give his son as a sacrifice. My father standing in that lake with water up to his waist and his arms held outward holding his son praying that I would float. Well at least that is how I think of it now, needless to say I couldn’t relax and I did not float at all, not even a little. He pulled his arms back and the sacrifice was given to the demons of the lake because I sank like a rock. I just didn’t know how to float, I sank again and again; it was as if he was trying to baptize me. Near the end I had taken in so much water there was little fight from me and my father gave up the only lesson he tried to teach me and dragged me back to the sand where I could relax without the fear of drowning.
I relate this memory with much of my struggles in life, especially in regards with my hardships and battles with my demons. It is like my life is completely surrounded by water and if you know how to swim you can pass through it and make it to the other side, if not you may just drown. In this you must be able to float or better yet tread water so that you are able to see where the solid ground is rather than bobbing in and out of water gasping for air. I didn’t know what treading water was, I never passed the floating lesson. There are times at which I feel as if life is trying to drown me and I spent a lot of time gasping for air. I feel as if I am still out in that lake but without my father’s arms supporting me. I am out so far I can’t see the shore and the water is very much deeper and way over my head.
I feel as if I am at the mercy of the water and as I bob up and down trying to teach myself how to float and tread water while begging for more air and less water in my lungs. The evils within the deep toss me and turn me and pull me under as I roll with the waves during the storms and pray that my father would reach out and pull me to shore. There is that brief moment of peace when you are pulled below where all sight and sound are muffled and slowed and down below you can see so many things that are hiding deep beneath the surface and then as you make a break for air your cries are exploding as you fight to get enough air before you get pull back again and again. The more you go under the less air you are able to fight for because your lungs are slowly filling up with water each time the depths pull you towards them. Eventually you will have more water in them and will not be able to breathe and it is that point at which you will be drowning.
Hope is not entirely loss, for I cried out enough and I was given the ability to float and even tread water. It was as if my father did return and finished the next part of his swimming lesson. The waters are calmer now, a few rolling waves but nothing crashing down on me. I am able to stay above the waters and fight off the depth from pulling me under; however, I cannot seem to see the shore and now I feel as if I am stuck in the middle of this body of water with no direction. I pray that I would see a boat or some type of rescue craft and that someone somewhere would toss me a line or a lifesaver. Once again in my life I am out here in this water and I don’t know what to do. I am just out here treading water waiting to be rescued. Maybe I am truly alone and the only rescue for me would be to learn how to swim or drown. There is a storm rolling in and I better learn something fast because before too long the waters will overtake me again.