Friday, April 24, 2009

a little stuart smalley never hurt anybody.

Last year, as I was panicking in a muddy bayou, convinced I could not expel air if I put my head under water, certain that I could not do a stroke, my coach, a usually quiet and mild mannered young guy, stood at the bank and shouted: SWIM. PUT YOUR HEAD IN THE WATER AND SWIM.

More to myself than to any other person, I was mumbling as I treaded: I can’t swim. I can't breathe.

To which he responded: YES YOU CAN.

Tomorrow is my first triathlon of the year, and I’m doing some self-motivation, Stuart Smalley style: I’m good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.

I’m trying to remember the things I said to myself last year as I talked my nerves away during my second event, at which I did not have an anxiety attack.

I reminded myself: You love the water. You love to swim. You love to be immersed in water. So get in and have fun. You’re doing something you love to do.

I remembered my mother: Your mother couldn’t swim, and she wished she could. When you get in that water, swim like you are swimming for her.

A prayer I’d grown up listening to nearly every day began reciting in my head.

Somewhere along the way, between these two reminders and this prayer playing in my head - a metronome helping me keep pace - I began to feel like I was a whale in the water, and my mother was riding on my back, laughing, laughing, laughing when the water splashed her face. I could practically hear her laughter.

I’m trying to remind myself that something inside kicks in if you allow it to – if you get over your fears and open yourself up to the fun, the accomplishment and the joy. Is it a survival instinct? Some seed of stubbornness that won't allow you to fail?

I have my triathlon class today, and I may go to yoga in the evening. Then early to bed, lots more self-talk playing out while I try to drift.

Finally, in case you don't get why I feel so much dread about the swim, here is one small reason among many. Enjoy.

SONG: Higher Ground, Red Hot Chili Peppers (I know. I know. The original version is great, but somehow this one fit me better today.)

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