How are you doing? 🌵
When I stood at the shore of the Indian Ocean for the first time, my stomach turned as the water below my feet pulled away. Still, I took up surfing the next day. And when I got dragged out from that same shore and under the water surface a few too many times, I collected a new fear.
Whenever G and I returned from a surfing trip, I promised myself I’d spend more time in the pool and practice holding my breath, and getting more comfortable in the water. But I never did, until this year, I had to give up my usual exercise routine after injuring my knee. The pool became the center of my recovery, and I came back to my promise.
I took up freestyle swimming, and although part of my brain rationalized that I was never truly out of breath, and also, that I was in a 1.2 meters deep body of water, another part knew very well that I was training for the waves, which was enough to generate background panic for my first few months of laps.
It wasn’t until last week that I sensed a change. I had begun to relax. The blinkers had come off, and the boundaries of the water surrounding me opened. I didn’t have to use the full extent of my brain function to focus on breathing. My body took over at times while I daydreamed. I was able to stay under longer. Even to let the pressure in my throat mount and still be okay. I swirled and looked around. And, I could imagine how some people might dream of a life underwater.
I’m not sure how I’ll respond when faced with a crashing wave again, but I hope my body will remember my practice and stay calm. Not unlike how I don’t have to think twice about striking up a conversation with a stranger or asking them for their portrait any longer. Both things used to make me uncomfortable, but nowadays, after some practice, I can’t even remember what I feared so much.
Some people become stronger when challenged by others. I’m at my best when confronted by my fears. The thought of taking the first steps is never comfortable, yet at the same time, always irrelevant because I know that sooner or later, I’ll take them. In the end, what I fear most is to be defined by my fears, and so I much rather move into them.
I added the last two chapters from The Knitting Club, which include my takeaways from the Wait But Why articles for chapter five, and the artist dates we went on for chapter six. Tomorrow, after a one-month break, we’re starting season two of The Knitting Club, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Quote I’m Pondering
What’s on the other side of fear? Nothing. –Jamie Foxx
And a nudge,