I can't swim. Well, I can doggie paddle and float on my back, but is that really swimming? No. You have to be able to put your face in the water and I'm scared to death of doing that.
I am scared of lots of things, but I do them anyway. Staring at a blank page for example, and opening my heart (my words) to others.
However, watching my own kids and my community's kids on the Bedford Hills Swim and Dive Team has taught me something about facing fears and persevering, about moving forward and about doing the best you possibly can in any single moment.
About practice. Practice may not make you perfect, but it most certainly makes you better.
My two boys joined the Bedford Hills Swim Team last year. Coming from the city, we couldn't believe what a special opportunity this was, and thought everybody would be doing it. Not so in Bedford Hills. We had 45 kids on the team and were held together by one awesome parent. (Our numbers were so low that we lost every meet and went down a division to fifth, losing our privilege to have a Dive Team.)
This summer, my husband Rob and our neighbor Liz joined forces to be the parent reps for the swim team, determined to raise the number of kids on our team and parent involvement. (Anybody with any knowledge of suburban swim teams knows that this is a HUGE commitment. But Rob had no idea.)
Rob had to put tiling our bathroom on hold in order to do everything he wanted to do for the swim team. I groaned, I pulled my hair, but all the while he looked at the bigger picture. The picture of being part of a community where the sum is bigger than its parts.
Participation went up dramatically this year and the team has won every A meet.
And yes, the kids were creamed by and other higher-division teams in a B meet a couple of weeks ago. But "winning" isn't what inspires me. I love an underdog. It's the seven year old who puts so much energy into her stroke that it actually slows her down but she keeps on anyway. (Okay, that's my kid.) It's the kids who come in last, but are in the game and part of the community anyway. They are the ones who truly persevere. It's my husband and the way he insists on putting 150% into every project he takes on.
It's the kids who can put their face in the water, because to me, that's nothing short of a miracle.
And what is a miracle but a change in perception?
I apply this to my writing life, my teaching life, my home life. It's about striving for our personal best and finding beauty in our struggles, in our imperfections. (So what if the bathroom isn't done? It's such a tiny part of the picture.)
My seven year old tells me she overcame her fear with nose plugs. (Frankly Scarlett, I think I'll be getting myself a pair!)
And Saturday, at our Championship meet: go Bedford Hills Barracudas!