This morning I took
the big plunge.
I am excited, nervous and a whole buffet of indescribable emotions besides.
In another 4 months the public system will recognize me as a senior citizen, and yet I have listened to my inner voice that tells me it is time...
Time to learn how to swim.
I almost said _"let that *sink in* for a while"_ ... However it didn't feel quite right, based on some nightmarish thoughts I have been having about this decision.
Can I tell you though? Many of the people with whom I have shared my intention were not particularly supportive.
The most common response was deep, rumbling, belly bottom laughter.
Jaw dropping incredulity was a close second.
So much so dat me just stop talk bout it and start to examine me own head.
There are so many _'reasons'_ not to do this. Plus it's not like I could be ridiculed for not doing it...in fact it's non-Jamaicans who are more likely to be perplexed about _'island folk'_ who tend not to do much more than play in the water or pose on the beach.
One blog I just read with the provocative heading *_'Why Can't Jamaicans Swim?'_* The blogger, *Kristi* paints herself as an incurable 'Jamaica-phile'
In her *about me* section she says
_'Jamaica has conquered me. It’s turned me into a full-time addict of its people, culture, food and adventures, and my allegiance has slowly shifted from “Canadian office worker” to “random Jamaica thrill seeker”. I have recklessly thrown myself into the core of the island and can’t seem to find my way out._
Wow. I guess that's love. Yet this one puzzle remains in her mind...a population of primarily non-swimming island folk in a land that is also replete with rivers and susceptible to flooding.
_"It just seems funny to me because up here in Canada one of the first things we do with our kids, sometimes before they can even speak properly, is put them in swimming lessons."_ she explains.
Yet this unfit, significantly overweight, 54-year-old man who has never had an athletic bone in his body is going to put on a brave face, dig deep and and with help, attempt step by step to explore the deep.
I am now convinced that this was more a situation of saying _"Yes Lord, yes"_ rather than any well thought out strategic plan.
This seed has been in my mind for many years, but it's almost as if God sought me out and painted me into a corner where I had to do or duck out. (That other d-word is just not comforting before your first swimming lesson ... Nuh true?)
Grappling for the spiritual lesson behind it all, I browsed through several testimonies and lessons both practical and spiritual...listened to several accounts.
In the end, these three top reasons won over my dozen or more excuses to duck out.
*_1. Never too late_*
...or as the Jamaicanism goes, _'Wah nuh dead, nuh call ee duppy'_ (As long as it's alive, don't call it a ghost)
The folks at *_SWIM Jamaica_* reassured me with the example of a 70 odd year old woman who learned to swim and spent the rest of her years actively enjoying this activity.... Now that's inpspiration but also a challenge.
In the Bible I recall how God repeatedly used senior citizens to demonstrate the extent of his miraculous and gracious enabling love.
Sarai became Sarah the mother of nations in her advanced years and despite all evidence that she was barren.
Abraham himself was no spring chicken. In the winter of his life, he was still renewed and became the de facto father of the nation of Israel.
So... Here I go...with the reminder that it's never about our physical condition or chronological age, but about the will of God. We remain in his will, he'll surely make a way.
_Isaiah 40: 29. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;_
But God, whispering HOPE.
_Isaiah 40: 31. but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint._
That scripture now has new meaning, I think to myself as I drop the the phone and head through the door to catch my early morning debut.
As I return home from _'bruckin me ducks'_ and then running some errands, I realize that it's true what they said in the articles I've been browsing....
*_2. It Takes patience_*
This also includes being willing to wait without waning interest or curbing enthusiasm.
My debut should have been last week and some communication gap landed me and my sparring partner *_Jean-Pierre, aka JP_* flat-footed when we realized the pool was closed and instead of diving into water we had to disengage from 🍊 juice. The PNPs private session was in full swing at the stadium and the pool was closed for cleaning.
But here I am a week later... one long and torturous and challenging week later with a new shine and refreshed enthusiasm.
...and a patient teacher helps too.
Meet *_Nathan_* a very young member of the *SQIM Jamaica* team, but clearly an extremely competent swim coach.
With an easy and friendly manner and a disarming smile, he greeted *_JP_* and me and even entertained the buffoonery that I get up to when I am nervous and in public. Then came a third class mate and we were good to go.
By the time we were immersed shoulder high in calming and cool water, I had already decided I was going to enjoy every minute.
This decision came back to bless me close to the end of the class. The interesting thing is that I cannot recall when I have had so much fun with zero pressure. We all overcame the double fear of holding the face under water *_plus_* eyes wide open. Then came floating on a _noodle_ both stomach and back. Just a few jitters, but we giggled and cheered each other on.
Then came the glide... Press u foot dem pon de pool wall under water, steady yourself on the poolside, chin on the chest, legs close, free arm pointed high..and den *_Chuck awf!!!_*
Well...that was the theory, for the voices in my head started running contrary to my potentials like global warming and the 45th resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW in DC.
Just refused to compute.
*_JP_* was calm and helpful
Our fellow neophyte, *_Nerissa_* was cordial and encouraging *_Coach Nathan_* was unflappable ...he was willing to take me through as many times as I wanted to try.
The pool of patience around me finally soaked it and me chuck awf bout 5 time without the typical sputtering near death experience.
Not smooth though, and not pretty to watch I would imagine...but so what? It's the start of a healthy new habit, and I have until December to decide whether or not to continue.
Hopefully by them it will become a habit that's tough to break.
I am willing to wait it out and keep stalking that water 'till she loves me back. Lol.
As for the spiritual, so for the physical, I will approach the ensuing lessons according to advice from an ace Bible mentor, Timothy.
_But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 2 Timothy 3:14 NIV_
*_Nathan reassured me even more of his competence when he looked straight at me and said, _"Wanna hear something funny? My father insisted that I go learn to swim, and I turned around and taught HIM to swim."_
Sound technique, amazing attitude and experience coaching a senior citizen who was also a loved one.
All I can pray for now is a godly attitude.
*_3. Absolutely nothing to lose_*
Even if I never become flipper or Neptune's side kick...swimming provides the best all-round exercise in a single activity. Also for people with dodgy joints in a massive body sitting on small bones...the likelihood of injury is minimal.
Life lessons, physical fitness, new found friends, one of whom is already thinking about revisiting a relationship with God... So its also a mission field.
Thanks to God, I no longer feel like I am in over my head. It feels more like ongoing affirmation of baptism.
If you can't swim... Come talk to me. We really need fih gwaan bettaaan suh!
Repeat afta me...
*_When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3 NIV_*
Nuff Love an' Bare BlessN