I don’t know why, but I hate getting wet. I don’t mind being wet; I just hate the experience of getting there. Sure, I’ll wade ankle deep on a beach, or dangle my hand from the side of a sailboat, but immersion is something I avoid, and do not—I repeat NOT!—splash me, squirt me, or even drizzle me just because you think its fun. I may politely pretend I’m okay, but secretly I want to strangle you.
I have often wondered if I may have had a near-drowning incident that I was too young to remember, or—when I let my thoughts go this direction—whether something awful involving water happened to me in a past life. All I know is that most of my life—in Southern California, no less!—I have had to overcome reluctance to get into a pool (even a jacuzzi), or dash into the surf.
The weirdest part is that I even feel this way about taking showers. I work up a full sweat exercising and a few hours later I am still in my gym clothes. Then, even when the shower is nice and warm, I enter with a bit of a grimace. Then I am fine and enjoy the loveliness of it as much as anyone else.
In the past I was willing to get wet when it would lead to something I wanted. When I had a high school boyfriend who wanted to frolic in the surf, I would do it. When my children were young, I got in pools with them. For a while I even took up scuba diving, because I loved the otherworldliness of it. It’s not like getting wet was ever a phobia, it was a low drone that I could handle.
Around the time my first marriage was getting too toxic to endure, I also disliked my job immensely. The end result was that when I drove to and from work, I was miserable about where I was headed both coming and going. I took up lap swimming (yes, I hated getting in the pool) because the calming and meditative quality of it soothed my spirit and caressed my body in ways I was starved for. Besides, it was the only therapy I could afford.
I don’t remember why and when I stopped. All I know is that it was sometime between 25 and 30 years ago. Recently, here in my new life in Victoria, I got this urge out of the blue to start swimming again. I think it was because I have tried, as Thoreau put it, to live deliberately here, not to settle for sameness, and routines with mediocre returns. I joined an athletic club that has a lap pool. I had to go buy a bathing suit because even with all my cruising, I didn’t have one. Then with a fair amount of anxiety, I went out and stood by my lane for the first time, looking at the water in this pool.
I remember saying under my breath, “Okay, Laurel, only have real problems.” To view getting in that pool as a problem was utterly optional. There was no threat. There was no down side. Normally reason doesn’t work on anything irrational, but it did this time, I guess because I was ready for it. In I went.
The first day I could barely swim 3 laps because that visceral part of me that wasnt happy about what I was doing was making it hard to relax and just breath and feel my body move. That was about 6 weeks ago, and I am up to 15 laps in half an hour now, which is enough of a goal for me. It’s been a while since I gave any thought at all to getting in. I just do it.
Just like in the past, I want something from getting wet. I want fitness, I want the full presentness of swimming, i want to feel my body working as a whole, I want the utter change from everything else I do, and I want the wonderful way I feel afterwards. What a loss it would be to let the nonsense about getting wet take all that from me.
I am retired, so my life is pretty carefree these days, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have tons of boring and frustrating must-dos, time sucks, and petty aggravations. There are phone calls to make, mistakes to rectify, appointments to keep, business to attend to. Even though each is small individually, they are real problems. And that pile is big enough. I’m going to do my best only to have real problems from now on.
Guest Author Bio: Laurel Weeks
Laurel Weeks lives in Victoria BC and travels extensively as a lecturer for Seabourn and other luxury cruise lines.
She is a retired Professor of Humanities at San Diego City College. She is a published author of historical fiction and non-fiction under the name Laurel Corona. This post was originally published at her personal blog at www.laurelcorona.com