Waterlogged and feeling like each of my feet was a 50 pound weight, I found myself wondering again, “Why do I get stuck in these situations…what’s wrong with me?”. You might have wondered the same thing from time to time, about yourself that is….you know… events, business ventures, crazy human encounters that originally sounded great but aren’t so much?
I was feeling invisible and somewhat irrelevant as my 54th birthday rolled around. So I found the obvious solution, scuba diving lessons. I’m not sure if that’s the normal way to deal with the 5th decade of life, but “it sounded good at the time”. I fantasized of jumping in the deep blue ocean like Lloyd Bridges of Sea Hunt. I could see myself rolling backwards off the edge of the boat, or stepping boldly off the end of the pier…spear gun in hand…ready to save the world just like Lloyd. And for those who don’t know, Lloyd was dad to Beau and Jeff and Sea Hunt was some darn good TV!
Lessons began and I was surprised at how young my classmates were. I found two others who appeared to be somewhat “mature” – – a muscular, stern, grey-haired woman and a very short, round bearded man (kind of a mini Santa). Shockingly even they were younger than me…but I was not deterred.
At our first pool session we were instructed to swim seven laps to prove our sea-worthiness. No big deal. I jumped in. Actually, I sat on the edge of the pool and slid in as did the other two elderly students.
For the first lap I’m thinking, “I may not be fast, but I’m really good”. Second lap, I’m feeling the burn but still doin’ OK. Third lap my breathing is a bit labored…. more than a bit. Fourth lap, that crazy little “why” was welling up inside me….“why did I think I could do this…when will I ever learn?”.
As my 5th lap began, I realized only Mini Santa and I were left in the pool. He wasn’t looking so good and had resorted to the dog paddle. I silently scoffed. We made it thru that lap and then…. horrors…….. he climbed out of the pool. He was two laps ahead of me? No way…
I became the lone swimmer for laps 6 and 7. Felt like an idiot. Humiliation descended on me like a belly flop and I wondered how much money I could get back if I quit right then and there. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to take a quilting class?
“Brooke, you OK?” the instructor yelled. I stopped to tread water as Travis quizzed me to see if I knew who I was and where I was. “Do you want to finish the laps” he asked kindly.
I managed to gurgle “yes”…or in drowning, swim-speak “yeaglfhsh”.
“Then you will finish” he said, as though stating absolute fact.
“You can do this pretty or you can do this ugly. I don’t care, Brooke. I just want you to finish. Do it”.
He walked the edge of the pool for my 6th and 7th laps…he called my name, clapped, told me I’m doing great…almost there. And so, I splashed, thrashed, kicked, sputtered and yes, even dog-paddled my way to the end of lap seven. Mercifully everyone else was playing with their regulators and vests as I clawed my way up the ladder and out of the water. Maybe they didn’t notice?? Yea, not likely.
There is ever so much more to tell of my scuba learning experience, but it must wait for another day. Besides, there are limits to how much humiliation I can take in one dose. The point this memory brought to mind is how little encouragement it took to get me where I needed to go that day.
The challenge to enter the world of scuba diving is a light hearted example for sure, but it reminds me of goals, dreams and relationships that didn’t fair so well. I would get to that “why am I stuck here again” stage and stop, or settle for less.
But what if I take a few moments the next time I hit that wall and tread water till the fog clears? Like now, this blog….I can think of a million reasons why my time could be better spent… to include a kitchen floor that needs scrubbing. But what do I do with the prompt to write, write, write…what if I carry on…..what if?
P.S. I highly recommend scuba diving, although I wouldn’t wait till 54. And Muscles never finished the course….she wasn’t as tough as she looked. Mini Santa rocked it.
This is me in the purple, prescription dive mask. Yes, I said prescription – – couldn’t see my depth meter without it. I now have matching purple snorkel and fins. Color coordination is essential.
13 thoughts on ““why” and “what if””
Good for you Brooke!!! I’m 50 and I’d have *never* made 7 laps – *never*. You go Girl. ! 🙂
Thanks, Kathleen 🙂 I’ve added a few years (and pounds) since, but must take care of that. Doug still owes me a scuba trip in the Carribean – -and I’m collecting!
Yippy, I’m your first comment!! You are hilarious! Hurry, write more! Good luck with this new venture!
Oh thank you, Sheri:) Sure appreciate the encouragement!
You are quite the writer, Brooke! And quite the adventurer. I’m very impressed!
Thank you, Carrie – – you are too kind 🙂
This English teacher is giving you an A . Good for you.
Thank you, my dear:) That means alot to me.
Good job, Brooke! With the blog, and the scuba achievement. Being in our fifties is so different than I expected, and still so many possibilities ahead in life. Keep up the adventures, no time to get bored with life yet!
Thanks, Maureen – – right, so much to do. Boredom is not an option 🙂
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Damn, you are courageous girl! It would probably kill me to try to swim 7 laps literally, and I can relate to the humiliation thing too. But I did repel down a 100 foot cliff at age 53, in front of my 14 yr. old son, and this was encouragement enough to entreat me to return to school at age 56 and complete my BA. Risk taking is good, at any age, it wakes us up, and embarrassment aside as we try something new allows us to see ourselves in ways we could hardly dream.
You’re right… a risk now and then often gives us the push we need. Congratulations on completing your BA!