Learning to swim…

Posted: June 10, 2016 in Uncategorized


I took beginners swim lessons four years in a row.
I’m not proud of that.
I was an aquatic underachiever.
I would show up, learn a few strokes and proceed to flail around the pool.
I’m ridiculously unathletic.
My uncoordination would get the best of me.
I would usually lose heart and quit after the first four days, then I would come back the next year and try it again.
It was a vicious chlorine scented circle.

I had a promising beginning.
My first year, Rick Dossett was my swim teacher.
I was five years old.

Mr. Dossett had grown up with my Dad in a scrappy little Tulsa neighborhood called Mingo.
I can’t remember not knowing him.
Not only was he my swimming instructor, but, later he was my high school principal.

He’s a pretty incredible man who spoke into my life for a lot of years. I can honestly say I never left an interaction with Mr. Dossett feeling like I didn’t matter.
I can’t say that about many adults I knew.
I trusted him.

It all goes back to that day at the Collinsville Oklahoma city pool.

The first day, we lined up, we were a motley crew of wanna be swimmers, slathered in sun tan lotion and equipped with cheap nose plugs.
Mr. Dossett began the first lesson by asking if anyone wanted to jump off the high dive!
I forgot, for a moment, that I couldn’t actually swim and I went for it. (It’s amazing what you can do when you forget what you can’t do.)
I raised my hand and foolishly volunteered.
My mom nervously protested (because she had NOT forgotten that I couldn’t actually swim).
Mr. Dossett reassured her that he would not actually let me drown.
I hiked up my swim trunks to an uncomfortable and unsightly height.
I climbed the metal ladder that hurt my bare feet.
I looked over the edge and thought THIS is my moment.
I had never been that high before, it was liberating.
I was so high up that the people below looked like…well…slightly smaller people.

And then I did it…
I jumped off the high dive into the deep end! WITHOUT floaties I might add!
AND I sunk like a chunky little rock.
When I bobbed back up to the surface, Mr. Dossett calmly grabbed me with a long aluminum hook and fished me out like a wheezing trout.
And THAT was the highlight of my aquatic career!
As a swimmer, I peaked at the age of five.

I’ve never advanced past beginners status.
I’m still not a great swimmer.
I have sausage link arms and legs like a corgi.
I have limited motor skills.
Luckily, I’m naturally buoyant.

I wasn’t old enough to be afraid.
It seems like some fears grow on you.
Maybe, if you refuse to grow up, some fear can never get a grip on you.
Just a thought.

When it comes to life, I have found that
I don’t possess the skills I need to survive on my own.
Frankly, I don’t think I ever will.
I need help.
I still have much to learn.
But, that shouldn’t EVER keep me from diving in.
I have learned to trust and believe that, when I dive, there’s always going to be a hook to bring me back in.

Life is better when you dive in.
You just gotta trust the One holding the hook.
You walk to the edge and…
JUMP…might as well, JUMP!

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