When you’re submerged in self-doubt, you feel as though you’re the only one in the world who’s ever come face to face with the demons of uncertainty. You can share this doubt with a friend or spouse, but you’re essentially alone, alone to work through it, to come to a resolution or to live with it until it ebbs away with the passage of time. This feeling of anxiety, fear or apprehension can and does affect all of us at different times in our life.
For the past month or so I had been troubled over the possibility of an unsuccessful business venture. Someone had put their trust and money in me. Things were not working out as I had envisioned and I found myself immersed in doubt. It was Thursday, and I was one day away from a deadline. The anxiety that this had created was becoming all-consuming. I was desperate for an escape hatch.
In general, Friday afternoons have come to represent a celebration. There’s a ritual I’ve followed over the years here in South Florida. I swim in a pool near the ocean then sit in a beach chair near the surf’s edge. I listen to the rhythmic sound of the waves crashing on the shoreline and watch the sun shimmering off the ocean as it drifts toward the horizon. It’s my time to reflect on the week and marvel at the beauty before my eyes.
I knew that this coming Friday afternoon would probably be the usual day of swimming and rejoicing, but perhaps also a day of shame and embarrassment. My problem wasn’t going away, but maybe, it could be put into perspective. I needed to do something now, not just action poses, but real action. I reached for the phone to see if the pool would be open today at noon. Luckily, it was open for lap swimming from noon to 1 p.m.
At first, I couldn’t seem to shake the thoughts and anxieties concerning the problem I was up against, but soon the laps began to blend into each other and I was enjoying the best of what swimming has to offer. The water was beginning to work its magic. Back and forth, back and forth. Thoughts flowed into consciousness, some dealing with possible solutions, others focused on improving other areas of my life.
As time passed, I felt more fluid in the water and found myself turning on the speed, racing the person in the lane next to me. It felt good, the power of freestroke one way, relax with the backstroke on the way back. Turn on the speed … then recover. Get mad, pulling as hard as I could, recover. The pattern repeated itself. My escape hatch was working. In the process of swimming, I had come up with some ideas, alternatives. I was questioning my vision of happiness and how to deal with that. I wasn’t going to take this setback laying down.
Maybe it was the endorphins, maybe it was the “getting mad,” maybe it was the diverting of my attention by swimming; whatever it was, my spirit was being renewed. The same problem was still there, but I had put it in the lane next to me. It had become my competitor. I would show it who was the boss. Fortunately, the person in the lane next to me didn’t realize we were racing. Herein lies also the reason that many people, not just students, should interact more frequently, go to conferences, and be among peers much more. This helped considerably because I was pummelling that person. I was fierce, a winner. By the end of my swim, the demon had been beaten back. Oh, it was still there, but now … there was room in the pool for both of us.
Now, with Christmas coming soon, let’s all hope that there will be more room for different ideas, opinions, and beliefs. Let understanding the other win and let’s stop seeing anything different as a danger to our security and well-being. Happy New Year, everybody, and in good health!