This past weekend was a our first visit to my mom and step-dad’s new house. It is a beautiful red home out in the country. It feels more like a vacation lake house than a place where people day to day live. The part of the house I was most excited for was that it has a pond.
Bruno does not know how to swim, so Saturday we hung around the “beach” area. I tried to explain (badly) to Bruno how to float and once he was able to do that, kicking, using his arms. By the end of the session he could do a free strokes free-style and a few strokes backstroke. It was not pretty, but I was proud of him and I think he was surprised at himself. He described swimming as “teleportation” because he would close his eyes (no goggles) and find himself in a different place.
After, I planned to do a swim workout in the pond. I did not know how long (meters or yards) it would be. The plan was to set a timer and focus on trying to swim continuously. No big deal.
Unlike Bruno, I have goggles. For me swimming is not like teleportation. I can open my eyes and see where I am going. And I could not see. The pond is clean, but it is still a pond. It is murky. There are plants to swim through. And then, when I made it to the middle of the pond, I could not see to the bottom. First, I thought “how eerie” and then I panicked. Work out abandoned.
It was not until the drive back to Michigan that I even told Bruno I became scared. And truly, I still don’t understand. I used to do this all the time.
I started training for a triathlon to work on fear. At that time, it was my fear of cycling. But it seems that I have been presented with another fear to work on, one that does not quite have a name. I don’t think I am scared of swimming in ponds or lakes. The pond plants do not bother me. I like the fish. I suspect it is more fear of the unknown, looking down and not being able to see, looking to the side and only seeing more murk.
Next year, I have no idea where we will live or where I will work. This is it. The last year I will describe myself officially as a “graduate student” (in life, “student” will always apply). I cannot see. I only see murk. And as I mention, this causes a lot of anxiety.
I told Bruno yesterday that I just want certainty. I like knowing, planning, and the assurance of “if this, then that.” I get it. Nobody’s life is really like that. Still, I think when I was swimming and looked down and saw only the “unknown” in my small family pond, I was fed up with it. I could not handle just one more thing of not knowing.
It will take baby-steps (or strokes?) to try to get comfortable with being uncomfortable again in the pond, just as I’m trying to be comfortable, excited even, about not knowing what will happen next year. At the very least, I am certain I will get there, wherever “there” may be.