When was the last time that I spent an hour in a pool? How about you?
When we lived in Yonkers, I suppose. At that time, we were fortunate to be in a co-op overlooking the Hudson River and the Palisades. We had a different, beautiful sunset every night and the co-op’s pool was someplace we visited daily this time of year. We called it “Miami North.”
In my youth, Miami Beach was a yearly destination for us. My grandparents, Phil and Francis, lived in a luxury building on Collins Avenue next to the beach. Craig and I spent a couple of weeks there during school vacations for years. It was in Miami that I discovered my love for swimming underwater. I liked to challenge myself to swim the length of the pool and back, holding my breath and – even at a young age – teach myself to be calm even when my breath was running short.
Yesterday, I rediscovered my love for soaking in the cool, clean water, watching the clouds above and removing the leaves that drifted into the pool. Because I wear contact lenses, I couldn’t do laps underwater, so I just submerged myself and enjoyed the quiet for a minute and then repeated the process – looking at the sky, swimming around and cupping the leaves and then going under again for a silent respite.
At one point, I noticed how the water was reflecting on a tree. Looking at the leaves, it was as if hundreds of them were dancing in the light. It was very entrancing and I observed it from different angles. Of course, time just slips away at moments like these.
The high anxiety that I feel a lot these days feels like the opposite of what I felt in the pool, yesterday. To release my mind from the bondage of my fear was such a gift, one that I want to experience more. When I do so, I feel free like I did during the early days of our Adventure, walking in the woods with Bradley and Beth.
This morning, I listened to Rhiannon Giddens sing Paul Simon’s “American Tune” at the Newport Folk Festival. The lyrics are more true to today than ever before:
“When I think of the road we’re traveling on/ I wonder what’s gone wrong?/ I can’t help but wonder/ what’s gone wrong?”
There is so much right now that is causing us high anxiety. Even for those of us who have enjoyed a fairly protected and safe life, the outlook is, arguably, quite grim. Turn on the radio or TV. It’s right there.
I am aware that this is not new. Paul Simon wrote those words in 1973 and America was in a pretty crappy place then, too. Clearly, my eyes are beginning to see what many have warned us about (think Al Gore an “Inconvenient Truth”) and most of us want to ignore. Well, the bill is coming due. It’s in the weather and on the TV and it sucks.
So, that’s part of the reason my body and mind are full of fear. So, what to do? One cannot spend the rest of one’s life in the pool looking at clouds, hiding underwater, right? Right. But it’s a great way to recharge for what is coming next.
What’s next for me is to prepare for a show on Friday. It’s a show called “Celebrate Diversability” and it’s a collection of songs and stories that we tell about people who have faced really difficult challenges and still soldier on. It’s about Louis Braille who went blind at the age of 3 and was kicked out of school because he couldn’t read like the other kids. His reaction? He created raised dots on a page to read with his hands and spent decades trying to get it into the mainstream. It’s about our friends who are blind or cannot walk or were born deaf and somehow found light in themselves or were handed a torch by a loving friend.
In the glittering light of the trees, I found some magic. It was there before I happened upon it, but it was my willingness to discover it, to be in it, to wonder about it, and then to share it with you. This is what I do. My plan – like Paul Simon’s – is to reflect back to you and to children what is around us. Some of it may be terribly sad and some will certainly be filled with love and hope. It will be both because that’s what is. My CD, “Create Without Caution”, is full of both types of perceptions.
In guided meditation or in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), we learn that we can create a place in our minds that is peaceful. This is a tool that psychologists use with trauma patients, I’m told. I have lately been thinking of it as a prism that I hold in my hands. It’s my choice in every moment how I turn it to reflect the light or not. We can pick a moment like I did in the pool and recall it and visit it even when life is or feels horrible and hopeless. And if you find yourself in a state of high anxiety (it’s coming) then you will have a new tool!
May you discover something magical today, wonder about it remember where it is with the prism you hold in your hands. And share it! We all can use a bit of inspiration.