Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Monday, May 12, 2008

In the Lake

"For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business."
-T.S. Eliot

Back in the days when we lived in California and Spouse had an understanding and friendly boss, I was invited along on many work-related excursions. One of these was a company picnic on the shore of a lake.
Several colleagues had motorboats and they offered a ride to anybody who wished to partake.
Spouse went along on one vehicle and I on another. Neither of us like water and neither of us can swim. Yet there we were on our respective ends of the gigantic lake learning new and thrilling things.
Spouse's boss- let us call him M.- stopped the boat and urged us all to get out and enjoy the waves. I was horrified. I had thought to spend the time just looking at the lovely water but I nonetheless found myself a few minutes later clambering rigidly down the ladder.
I held onto M's arm. This worked for a short period until M. wanted to swim and needed to be relieved of the human barnacle.
I prepared to release my grip one finger at a time. He watched me patiently.
I come from a place where swimming, on account of the weather, is not a habit, and though I grew up two miles from a lake, it was an entirely different scenario.
Firstly, I usually had a tyre or other means of floatation to support me when I ventured into the the lake; secondly, as I have stressed it was not a common occurrence to go into the lake; and lastly, the popular swimming area was no more than five feet deep.
"What are you doing?" M. enquired curiously. I was performing some strange movement with my feet and he was confused.
"I'm looking for the lake bed," I explained. "I'll let go of you when I find it. I promise."
M. glanced at me sideways and then helplessly at the rest of the group.
He cleared his throat and then said gently, I imagine so as not to alarm me, "the lake is about eighty feet deep. You won't find the bottom."
What a learning experience that was for me: lakes across the world are not all the same depth.
With that wisdom absorbed, I surprised myself by later lying across a rubber tube, grasping a wet rope and allowing myself to be pulled along by a boat driven by a fellow determined to show me the health benefits of swallowing lake water.
I had a marvellous time.
I still cannot swim. Neither can Spouse, who at that very same moment was water-skiing elsewhere. I doubt very much that we should have recognised each other had we crossed paths like ships in the night.
One never knows a thing without trying.


Anonymous said...

I'm not a strong swimmer either, but I did learn to tread water. The question for me would be "how long can I tread water?' if the need ever arose. I like to think survival instinct would take over and I would be OK. Dare to dream I guess.


Barb said...

Interesting post, I too am not a strong swimmer in fact I am deathly afraid of water. I even get the stomach flipping by looking into a toilet tank. Pretty bad aye???? Barb

dennis said...

Dennis cannot swim.

Pauline said...

I had to laugh at this: "allowing myself to be pulled along by a boat driven by a fellow determined to show me the health benefits of swallowing lake water."

I can't swim either and hardly ever venture into deep water unless I can cling barnacle-like, too.

tangobaby said...

You are extremely brave. I was taught to swim at an early age but I remember how scary it was to be in the water (even a pool) before I knew I wasn't going to drown.

Perhaps someday you and Spouse will learn to swim (just for safety's sake, at least). Swimming can be a lovely and relaxing activity with just a few solid lessons.

Great story!

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Steve, well one would hope so. I'd like to think I would manage well if the situation arose.

Barb, ooh, no that's not good. I usually like to paddle, or look at it. But it does frighten me too.

Dennis, Don't they make feline life-jackets? That might aid in learning. Unless Dennis doesn't want to try ;)

Pauline, I'm astonished how many people have said here they can't swim! I have to have a reliable anchor or I'll never go in the water. I like swimming pools- at least I like the bars one can hold onto at the edge.

Tangobaby, Ah, a swimmer! :) I hear swimming is good for the health too. I've always thought it seemed relaxing until I get to the water's edge...someday we'd like to learn, although Spouse is a tad more frightened than even I am.

I didn't mention that some of the fellow passengers on the boat were children, and they had no problem jumping in. It sort of helped me. I didn't want to look silly, and so they inspired me.

Beth said...

A good story about going out of your comfort zone--I love to swim but am afraid of water. I fight fear every time that I dive in then it's fine until I remember that there is lots of water under me. So I try not to think about the water, just the strokes and the rhythm and clearing my mind. It's a weird love/hate relationship but I can't stay away.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Beth, I have to have firm ground under me or I panic. My normal solution is to stay on dry land :) But as I said I love the feel of water, and I feel I'm missing out sometimes. I would love to get to that point you mentioned, after you stop thinking about the depth and the fear.

julochka said...

lesson could still never talk me into bungy jumping. :-) or parachuting. still, a good story. :-)

Jaime said...

Wow...I am so impressed by this!

I have been a fish all my life, as I grew up camping on lakes. But even so, I remember always getting a nervous butterfly feeling in my stomach before going waterskiing or tubing etc. I can't imagine how much more intense that would feel for someone who cannnot swim!!!

This makes me feel like conquering another fear, and seeing what amazing things come of trying something new, even if it's terrifying.


Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Julie, I felt safe enough with experienced swimmers- they wouldn't let anything happen to me- but I would never try a thing like jumping from a plane. Just not my thing. And who would help you if something went wrong? No thanks ;)

Jaime, it was exhilarating. As I said above though I wasn't in any danger as they knew I couldn't swim and were looking out for me. Help was seconds away and I knew it all the time. Still scary though but in a great way.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

I'm not what one would ever call a swimmer - but I'm grateful to the forced swimming lessons as a child, like stamperdad I can tread water and I can dogpaddle for hours and know how to float! one never knows...... best be prepared!

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Kimy, I do wish I had learned when I was younger. It would have made all the difference, I think.

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