“But Did You Breathe?”
Last year, after thinking of doing so for 30 years, I signed up for swim lessons. I had taken swim lessons as a kid - so I could swim, just not well. I knew that swimming is a great form of exercise - cardio, strength, both without stressing joints. It also seemed to me that it would be Zen. And if nothing else, it would be a good challenge (see "flow"). So with some trepidation, I scheduled a series of lessons. A week later I showed up for my first lesson, and I could tell the instructor was a bit surprised. I guess because I didn't appear physically to need swim lessons at my age? Buff as I am. 😂😂😂😂 Reggie, the instructor, told me to hop in the pool and swim a lap. I jumped in and for the first time in years, pushed off the wall and began to swim the crawl. I got about 3/4 of the way down the pool and ran out of air. Grabbing for the side of the pool, I laughed and told Reggie that’s why I was there. He said I had great form (😁); then he said, “But did you breathe?” My mind raced. Was I supposed to breathe? Think. What had I done wrong? Oh no, fixed mindset!
He repeated the question. OMG. I was so focused on propelling myself to the other end of the pool that I did not breathe while I was swimming - no wonder I ran out of air! I had forgotten a crucial - the crucial? - part of swimming.
Greatly embarrassed (and deeply humiliated) I asked Reggie to show me the proper technique for breathing. As he did, it came back to me from my youth. I’m proud to say that by the end of the lessons I was swimming pretty well.
That experience popped into my head this week when I took a selfie sitting on a dock on the Gulf in Pascagoula. “Whoa! Is that me??” I won’t share the selfie (you’re welcome), but I did not look happy. A frown? And it took me back to “did you breathe?” Here I was happy and relaxed basking in the warmth of the Gulf sun, but I had a frown on my face. No, not another example of forgetting!? Forgetting a crucial part of being happy?
You bet. I realized the happy person inside of me has done a terrible job of showing the world that there is a happy person inside of me. I guess I learned a long time ago that I was supposed to look serious. “Supposed to.” I don’t do “supposed to” anymore.
Seems fitting to end this post with this song....
What a voice Jimmy Hall has!
So next time you see me not smiling when you know I am inside, ask me if I am forgetting to breathe. :)