Saturday, March 04, 2006

Stories from the Prince Polonia (New Delhi, India 2006AC*)

Swimming Lessons

Oh how it always seems to come back to trust. Trust over fear. Throw
yourself into the water and trust that your body will know how to swim.
Trust over fear. And doesn't the fear really push you into the direction of
trust? At least intitially-- before the too analytical mind steps in with
all kinds of doubts and what-ifs?

But the lesson of trust is one that I seem to have to learn over and over--
each time unique as if I'd never known the lesson at all. I throw myself
into the water and trust that my body will swim, or at least know how to
surface for air. But the water in the lake, where I first learned to swim,
is different than the river's swirling currents or the rolling swells and
crashes of the ocean's salty waves. Each liquid requires a different kind
of swimming, a different set of body motions.

I have been lucky-- having learned to swim in many manners of water. I was
only a little girl when I first learned to take the leap of faith from the
top of the 'Big Falls' into the cove off the Tennessee River. I'd watched
(with envy) my brothers do it with grace and humour in the form of swan
dives and multiple flips. The best I could do was a clumsy jump-- arms
flailing and legs kicking outwards in order to clear the projecting edges of
the waterfall's unforgiving stone. Eventually I took the leap and survived
the stinging slap of the water against my awkward arrangement of body parts.
I sank fast and hard-- deeper into the cove than I 'd expected-- the water
colder and darker with each inch of descent. But my little girl's body did
know how to surface and my mouth opened wide to take in that crucial breath
only after I pierced the line where water meets air.

As an adult, I walked alone in the Himalayas-- through rains so heavy the
land was sliding down. Even then, with my eyes forced almost closed by wet
winds, I trusted my legs to brace and balance against the overland currents
of a monsoon flashflood. I trusted a butterfly who lead me through
knee-deep mud back to a walkable path. And somehow, slowly, I made it
safely to my destination.

So now I face the ellusive waters of a sinister cloud. And I wonder. If I
throw myself into this questionable form of water, this puffed-up cumulous
mass, dark and heavy with lightning bolts and the roaring thunder of a
child's worst nightmares-- Can I still trust? Trust over fear. But can I
trust that if I throw myself into the cloud that my body will know how to
swim across the sky?

As usual, the answer does not come in advance. "Trust over fear" I tell
myself. "Trust over fear" I repeat in disbelief. Trust over fear. Trust
over fear. Trust. Trust. Trust...

*AC: after cancer

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