Monday, April 06 2009
A LIFE LESSON
A certain man desired very much to learn to swim. Being a capable person, he decided to save the cost of an instructor and teach himself, so he promptly joined the nearest YMCA and set aside three periods a week for this endeavor.
Desire, plus initial effort.
On his first visit to the pool he decided to observe and size up the situation. He sat quite a while watching the other swimmers. He picked out a confident looking fellow that had a fancy stroke. He certainly made a splash and show. Our beginner then went to the shallow end of the pool and, taking courage in hand, pushed off from the side and started in. The results were violent and not too successful, but at least he didn't sink!
He took the plunge
Because he was persistent, he eventually was able to go from one side of the pool to the other with quite a bit of effort. The lifeguard, himself an excellent swimmer, came up to him one day. Because our friend was sincerely trying and had such a desire to learn, the lifeguard was prompted to help him.
"Say, I've been watching you. You seem really determined to lick this thing. Mind if I make a suggestion?"
Since our friend was sincerely seeking, he welcomed all suggestions.
"Why yes, I'd appreciate it."
"You are dissipating your energy in your stroke. Reach with your full arm, do not curve it and therefore chop your stroke. It may look fancy, but it actually cuts your stroke in half."
Our friend tried it and found it true. He found he got farther with less effort by following the suggestion. And while practicing his newfound arm technique, the Y swimming champion came over and made another suggestion. This one was about his kick.
"It's the stroke beneath the water that carries the power. The less splash, the better. Roll from the hips and keep the stroke submerged."
Our friend tried it and it also proved workable and right. Now he had some rearranging to do of his previous ideas. He had to discard his original model of what he thought constituted a "good" swimmer. In short, he had to admit the "splash" technique might create more stir, but was far less effective. And because both of the suggestions proved practical upon application, he did rearrange his conception. He looked at the swimmers around him with new eyes.
The ability to discard old concepts when they
One of the other swimmers he admired gave him a tip on breathing, which he also applied. But he still lacked the absolute smoothness of motion he observed in some other swimmers. His own mind told him that all three suggestions needed to be synchronized. He must bring them all into harmony.
He tried, and kept trying although he sometimes got discouraged. He often felt he was so close to his goal but couldn't break through and demonstrate what his mind knew to be the right way.
Still, he kept on trying and one day --- in the middle of a stroke --- he felt a rhythm surge up within and swing his arm stroke, his leg stroke, and his breathing into coordinated action and harmony. The result was beautiful to see. Even more so to experience. He could now cover a good distance with much less effort. He could cover it powerfully and easily, and the joy of doing something really well gave his whole mind and body a lift. He had succeeded.
One day a friend commented on his ability to swim so well.
"Why thank you, John. Never had a lesson, you know. Taught myself."
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