I am not a good swimmer. My bones sink rather than float. We have lived in the same place for forty years and I can count on my fingers and a few toes the number of times I have entered the common outdoor pool.
I don't like changing clothes. I don't like dragging a swimsuit (even that expensive German one I foolishly bought five years ago) up over the lumps and bumps of my body. And I don't like the feeling of walking down those pool steps inch by inch as I feel my uncomfortable way into the cold water.
When I turned sixty I went to Hawaii with a small group to swim (in the wild) with the dolphins. After a week on the big island we flew to Maui (or maybe it was Kauai) to hike the trail that has, I think, seven waterfalls. As we prepared for this hike, the leader said, "Be sure to wear your bathing suit under your clothes, because we'll go swimming in the pond at the top of the trail. And I have to warn you that the water is very very cold."
I panicked. Truly, I have a horror of the cold—and especially cold water on my exposed skin. I seriously considered "forgetting" to wear my suit. "Oh my goodness," I would say, "I totally forgot to wear my swimsuit. Guess I'll have to sit this one out."
Given the cost of the trip, however, and my determination to experience everything on offer, I conformed. I wore my suit under my clothes. I still wasn't sure what I'd do when presented with a freezing lake, but I wore my suit.
We hiked up the slope, seeing beautiful waterfalls and exotic flora and fauna that Ontario doesn't offer. Finally we reached the little lake. We stripped to our suits. There were nine of us in all—two leaders and seven participants. They all dashed over the rocks and threw themselves into the water.
I stayed at the edge. Finally, embarrassed by my own habitual timidity, I decided to join them. They were filling every inch of that pool, from edge to edge, diving under, hanging on to rocky outcrops, playing water tag. And laughing. So I went in.
The inch-by-inch approach will take you only so far when the water is freezing. At some point you just have to prepare yourself to die and plunge in. So I did, with the gasping and shivering and expected discomfort.
And then, in no time at all, I was happy. I was enjoying myself in this cold water. I still wasn't a great swimmer, of course. But I splashed and side-stroked and floated in that unbelievably frigid water. I surprised myself with the new feeling of having changed one of my nay-saying, negative habits. It was the beginning of something new.
Food blog: http://fastandfearlesscooking.blogspot.ca