They say that babies learn to swim very quickly and easily. I’ve read of folks “simply dropping” the baby into the water and finding them taking to it quite naturally. Why is this? Is it nature and not nurture? Is it their memory, still somewhat conscious, of life in the womb? More likely, this natural affinity for swimming is the result of the absence of fear. We aren’t born afraid. We learn that outside the womb. We do a masterful job of it, too. Okay, I can only truly speak for myself on this, but I have come to finally realize that I’m not the only one who feels the things that I feel and faces the things that I face in life. So, what’s up with this water thing? I have never learned to swim. Some would label me as “middle aged” and you can imagine my reaction to that label, but regardless of that I am an adult and have been one for a long time and no, I cannot swim.
Not too long ago, the Bible reading at church was from the gospel of John 5:1-18 where we learn of the man who spent 38 years by the pool and knew that if he could just bring himself to get wet, he would be healed of what ailed him and yet he stayed dry and also whined about being left out. He chose to be left out. He “could have” or “should have” made other choices. What’s the worst that could have happened? Was he not miserable anyway? I’ve always thought he showed himself to be such a lazy and foolish person to have made the choice he did. You can imagine how unsettling it was for me to realize that in some respects I am him! I don’t recall the story revealing his age to us, but I might be the same age as he was. Hmmm . . . and so I have spent life near enough to the pool to see and hear how much fun everyone was having, yet not close enough to the edge to cause anyone to suggest I join in. I never dipped my toes into the water. Still, I felt left out and somehow wished I’d been invited in . . . knowing full well I’d have declined.
So, yes it is true. I have never known how to swim. Why? Was it fear? Was it shyness? Who knows. But now suddenly, and after more than 38 years on dry ground secretly yearning, I find myself jumping in and realizing there are really just three things that can possibly happen as a result. I will learn to swim and fast . . . I will walk on water . . . or I may drown. I’m jumping in anyway. Who am I? Maybe I’m finally finding ME?