This I Believe: It Takes Heart
There must be something that kicks me out of the refuge of my bed at five o’clock in the morning, something besides my loathsome alarm clock, which I swiftly subdue into silence with a swipe of the hand. There must be an invisible force that compels me, even with half-closed eyes, to stagger onto the iced-over pool deck under a black sky. Yet, there must be something still that plunges my body headfirst into a submerged world of frozen numbness, a world where I conquer my doubts and surpass my limits. This something is heart. And this I believe: it takes heart to bring out the best.
I have always wondered what drives me to continue my crazy routine, more specifically the daily hours of self-torture in the pool. After all, who would willingly endure spending fourteen hours per week chasing a black line on the bottom of the pool or, even better, a yellow ball with black lines? Of course, those poor deranged souls, myself included, reap wholesome benefits, such as an eternal aroma of chlorine, a nice mass of coarse hair, a permanent X and O tattoo on the back, and a highly cosmetic masculine body with broad shoulders and bulging muscles. However, these material gains alone are not motivational enough to inspire me. It is a mental determination that impels me to battle the perilous waters, no matter how challenging or menacing they may seem.
This mentality comes from within my heart, where self-confidence and perseverance lie. It is there in the start of every practice, the quarter of every game, and the end of every race. It cries when my lungs gasp for air and when my throat thirsts for water. It is at these critical moments, when my body is screaming with fatigue and on the verge of giving up, that heart is crucial more than ever. I need heart to know I can make it through this last lap alive and through the last thirty seconds of this game with a win. I need it to outrace my opponent in the next lane by one one-hundredth of a second and outmaneuver my opponent with four seconds left in sudden death. Most of all, I must give all my heart to bring out the best in me, and that is what truly matters in the end.
As I sit here, ironically skipping a practice to write this essay, I realize that the past several hours have become a revelation for me; I now fully understand that everyday my trial in the pool is not just a test of my physical strength, but more importantly, a test of heart, a test of belief. I know without a doubt that the next time I dive into the same refreshing pool of chlorinated water, building my cardiac strength will not be my only goal; at the very least, I will leave every piece of heart I possess in the pool.
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