A few weeks ago I took Kay-Kay to the Y to begin kindergarten swim class. Every Saturday morning for the next two months he will learn the fundamentals of swimming: how to properly enter and exit the pool, fully extending his legs while kicking, the art of floating, and whatever else can be covered in half an hour. (Full disclosure: it was my wife’s idea; I cannot take credit as instill haven’t learned to swim…yet). To say My son doesn’t like water is an understatement. During bath times even the slightest sprinkle of the wet stuff on his face will prompt a pause in the action, followed by a request for a towel. When the decision to enroll him came along, I had my reservations about how he would fair, but we’ve been working on courage for some time. This would be a great opportunity to see how far we’ve come.
At the first class, Kay-Kay was apprehensive. Although the depth of the pool would only reach his mouth (he’s nearly 4 feet tall) that provided little solace. I sat a few feet from the pools edge as the instructor beckoned to students to attention. I made sure to maintain line of sight and eye contact, ready to give a reassuring smile whenever Kay-Kay looked my way with concern.
The experience has provided me the opportunity to think about the process of overcoming fear. Fear is an interesting thing: it possesses it’s greatest power when the least is known about it. My son was apprehensive of the pool and water in general because he’s unfamiliar with it. The wet liquid is sometimes hot, sometimes cold, still or raging, welcoming and foreboding simultaneously. It is too much to process, which leads to the mind labeling it as a danger. In my own life i see the same. The things I feared were virtually unknown and uncharted territories. Switching careers, moving to a new area, even starting to write this blog. Here in lies the enigma: what to do? It would be easy to simply say, “conquer your fears”. I’ve never found the transaction to be so straight forward. It is important though to question the root. Often times it is not fear we are experiencing, but an aversion or reluctance to new experiences. This is pivotal self-discovery that each individual who wants to live to their fullest potential must achieve. You may fail, but at least you’ll learn the water only reaches your mouth.