When I was 6, a bout of infantile paralysis, better known as polio, left me with very weak legs, a pair of crutches and leg braces, a love of water and a whole future in front of me. Fast forward five decades and beside the swimming pool I use each day sits my wheelchair waiting for me to convert from a free porpoise like human to a machine dependent person with a disability. Swimming which began as therapy at age 6 is now so much a part of my being that it is impossible to separate my self from it.
The water is my physical freedom, my temple for thinking, my escape from overwhelming events or problems, my spiritual shrine, and my cure for physical pain and illness….For 40 years I have swum most every day for usually an hour. Quietly, moving all my limbs with no fear of falling. Experimenting with new movement, recycling the old, stretching, stroking, thinking, not thinking. Swimming is effortless and soothing .. all concentration can be assigned to thoughts and plans of “my out of water life”. I believe that the water has provided me the “out of body” spiritual venue to grow in spirit,strength, and creativity. While cumbersome on land and always afraid of falling I am transformed in the water.
My thoughts are clear..sentences and paragraphs write themselves, ideas pop like firecrackers, memory sparkles; solutions appear. Swimming gives me a sort of joy, a sense of well-being so extreme that it can become a sort of ecstasy. I can move in the water, play with it, in a whimsical way that has no relationship to my dry-land self. I have had many experiences in my life and still the one that is the most powerfully euphoric is swimming. I believe that swimming has saved and enriched my life both physically and emotionally. Who knows what I would have been without my water ally.
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