“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” — Tom Robbins.
I was in the pool swimming laps, my favorite way to distress and exercise. While I was underwater, it ocurred to me that perhaps the secret to obtain internal peace is to rediscover the simple pleasure of a favored activity solely for the satisfaction of executing the act. Just do the thing, delight in it, and savor the results without the demand of competition or professional pursuit. A practice of the literal art of living, similar to what play means for children.
See, I always loved swimming. When I was little one of my happiest memories was going to swimming lessons. The smell of chlorine and humid echoes in the natatorium while learning how to float in my red bathing suit are recollections that, although slightly vague from certain details, remain vibrant in my bodily senses. I may not remember much of the face of my instructor, but I sure recall feeling like Christina Ricci in the movie Mermaids — a witty, little stubby brunette with strong legs, utterly passionate about the water. I wasn’t fast nor athletically gifted, but it didn’t matter because the point was learning not to drown and more importantly, I deeply enjoyed it. Those were the days before my fear of abandonment and poor self steem, which is why I got back into it as an adult. Being in the pool reminds me not only of jovial times but of a self that was assertive and excited, uplifting feelings that revive every time I go for a dip. In the water I feel safe, like I can disappear for a moment and be someone else, except I’m me — just a better version. I focus on the reflecting light, the gradients of soft blue and the graceful movement, like a fish or a mermaid. From one end to another it’s like time stops. I think of a million things and nothing at all. The motion soothes my worries. I feel invincible and achieved, each breath and stroke serving me as an armor of self reliance and trust. When I am in the water, the universe’s got it handled, whatever it is; and then I realize — I am the universe. I am not threatened, I am well, I am swimming — nothing else matters. With such force I have been able to change the way I think about myself completely and the way I handle my life. My sense of existence holds a steady torch, all because I have been brave enough to show up to my practice consistently. By reconnecting with the open-mindednes of my childhood I have redesigned my life and my persona, You can too.
When was the last time you sumerged in an activity that kept you safe from your overbearing thoughts? A reward without condition or expectation?. Swimming has shown me humbleness, steadiness, trial and error. It has acquainted me with extraordinary bliss. I carry the feeling around everywhere I go. It’s my pride and joy, my teacher and confidant. I pour my dedication in doing things from a place of self trust and honesty, the opposite from before — fearful and often doubtful due to experiences that programmed me to feel that way from very young. But there was a confidence however that never left and was only hiding shy, carefully restored swim by swim. So when I read that Tom Robbin’s quote, I got the chills. A rush of familiarity and resonance. I had known those words, only wasn’t aware of it. But finally, somebody had said them, and they now had to be true. I had felt it for some time since the dawning of my healing journey, the possibility to do it all over, to experience childlike happiness as an adult, but now my suspicion had actual veracity. It wasn’t all in my head, it is real — we can all rewrite our story.
I thought about it then, that day under the water, that there is a part in each of us that knows when we feel best. A part that is still wholesome and excited and curious of the possibilities; ready to be put to use for the reconstruction of a better, happier life. We may not see it now but we know it’s there, it’s just a matter of deciding to go find it. I believe the answer lies in doing the things we once loved genuinely and unconditionally, allowing for regrowth and healing.
Now bear in mind that it is inevitable for doubt to take a peek. It will in fact barge right in and make an entrance, deliberately announcing that there is no way in hell we’ll truly encounter peace, replaying in our minds the evergoing battle between the future and the past. I sure experienced my share when I decided to get in the pool again. The first time I had to share the lane with a fit and skilled athlete I automatically questioned my abilities— “I’m not even a real swimmer” I thought. I was teaching myself to flip turn between my laps and felt embarrased every time a fellow swimmer got in and made it look so easy. How did they calculate their turns?, Why did I keep sinking to the side?, How could I possibly keep missing the wall?… Who did I think I was? — trying to be a swimmer in my mid thirties..
Yet I didnt stop doing it. I loved the feeling of being inside the water so much that somehow, without a notice, I disregarded any possible insecurities. I let my mind run whilst busy tightening my core, twisting and gaining momentum, grasping harmony between speed and flow — like a ballerina under the water. It became my medicine, the adjacent to healthy eating and journaling. A renowned and powerful sport that became the most effective therapy I have ever had.
When hesitation strikes, just know such tale is only that, a tactic of resistance. We all hold enough acuity and intuition to decide if we should actually believe it. As you develop a new relationship with yourself, this intuition becomes stronger and clearer. I’m not suggesting it will be easy, it will take time and occasionally, it may even seem unattainable. There are patterns and thought processes that must be changed, a life long chain of assumptions reassuring us we are ill-fated. Such transformation can’t and won’t happen overnight. One must be patient. It will be arduous work but far from impossible; a journey truly worth your while.
That’s why I write about my experience, because I think it is important that you get a glimpse of what is like, and hopefully take a leap onto a new adventure waiting for you to go on.
Just like I, you’ll start to see your transformation. Within time spent inside the pool day by day, I let go of the comparisons and overrode my fears without really thinking about it. Busy alternating arms and kicking firmly but not forcefully, I discovered a different part of myself. Lap by lap, I began reconnecting the lost pieces. My body moved and my mind solved the struggles of my daily life. I started seeing through the mirror someone different. Discipline, accountability, and grit — all started showing up enthusiastically. A more fitting character to the woman I strived to be, I liked her more. The funny thing is she’d been there all along, I just had to help her come around and give her time to unfold. Swimming freed me.
So when you’re ready to experiecen a more jubilant self just ask: What makes me truly feel alive? You’ll know the answer. Then go off and start doing.
The beauty about it is that unlike any other advice or technical method, rekindling with curiosity does not feel like a chore. It’s a clean pleasure that dissolves our insecurities and heals our wounds, respectively and however slowly. Some people call them hobbies, I call them life changers. The practice of, whatever it may be, becomes a personal affair. An exciting expedition inward. Slowly, our weaknesses become our strengths, our mistakes the detours needed to be where we are meant to be. Right before our eyes, our new reality unfolds. We suddenly realize how far we’ve come, we look in the mirror and we are a different person, almost irrecognizable. We ask for nothing more because we understand we already are everything we need. And we experience then, the love we’ve always longed for. The peace, the unadulterated joy — the happy childhood. That’s when the new story of you begins, the rewriting of the old, dull narrative. A clearer reflection free from disorted thoughts and fears. A new friendship with thyself, a fresh start.