My sisters and I were mermaids. Swimming in the neighborhood pool, our long brown hair swirled about us as we held our noses and peered at the twinkling surface from underwater. Our “fins”, created by crossing one little foot over the other, flipped water into the air as we sat languidly and glamorously upon the concrete steps leading into the pool. My sisters and I gave ourselves mermaid names, often changing them with every trip to the pool, although I consistently chose “Pearl” as my moniker. After marrying our respective handsome human princes, we miraculously grew legs and wrapped our prune-like bodies in warm towels, admiring how the chlorine made everything we looked at brighter, shinier, and more wondrous.
Last week, inspired by my five-year-old mermaid self, I trekked to the campus pool. Still, even as an experienced swimmer, I stepped carefully into the chilled water and began to slowly stroke to the other end with some trepidation. As I stroked, I closed my eyes, easing myself into the smoothness of the water. After a few yards, my body tightened up and streamlined as I glided through the blueish water, morphing me into Pearl the mermaid. Pearl the mermaid lives in mermaid land, where no pesky exams or essays exist, no nagging boyfriends can frustrate her; absolutely no realities can weigh her down. Free as the fish in the sea, weightless, every single thing disappears, one at a time, with each taut but gentle kick of my feet and graceful but powerful pull of my arms. When I turned over onto my back and swiftly reached farther and farther behind me and as I stroked, I envisioned that when my hands lightly splashed the surface, I sliced out the negative energy surrounding me. As Pearl, my enchanting mermaid powers defeated my incessant perfectionism. In my watery, chlorinated castle, I am beautiful and I do beautiful things. I have no need to lose weight or wear makeup or do anything to alter my gorgeous, sexy mermaid self; I don’t need to worry about my grade point average or the test tomorrow or finals. My head clears, my eyes awaken, and my heart beats electric.
I believe in swimming. I believe in the Zen-like and hypnotizing power swimming has over me; I believe in the way the water washes my worries away and submerges me in peace. I believe in the numerous health benefits, including resting heart rate and respiratory rate reduction, weight loss, increased circulation, high blood pressure prevention, lower risk for heart disease, and not to mention the most important – the accompanying complete and utter sense of OM for the rest of the day.
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