As a child, I remember sitting at the end of a dock, staring down at the icky murky water of the lake. I imagined all the creatures ready and waiting for me with open jaws. I knew there were slimy rocks and mushy sand – you know the kind that feels like dog poo squishing between your toes. Ugh. I hate that feeling.
Well, my Aunt Jo Beth used to swim out to the middle of the lake and back. By herself. I was in awe that someone would dare to do that when they couldn’t see below them. I swore it was something I’d never do. I’d stick with good ole chlorine and pools with clear water.
Today, we don’t have a pool. We have a beautiful lake five minutes away with a public beach with okay sand. I mean I’ll actually go swim in it with only minor cringes. And I’m thankful for the lake. I wouldn’t trade it now for a pool for anything.
But, last week, My sister and I, and our kids, were back at the same lake, the same dock from when I was a child. My sister is training for a triathalon and asked if I’d swim across the lake and back. I cooly said, “Sure.” What was I thinking? I swore I’d never do this!
But I did. I swam across the lake. And back.
I know. Big deal. But I plunged into the cool water and swam. I freed myself of the boogeyman. Nothing reached up and grabbed my legs. I didn’t even feel any fish. Half way through I even did the back float and looked up at the blue sky. The perspective of the mountains around me and the sky was different from the middle of the lake. I realized how small I am in this big big world.
As I swam, I couldn’t help but think of characters and their fears. I laughed to myself. I swam across the lake without any high stakes or fear of death. In a book, my sister would have been drowning in the middle of the lake for me to conquer my fears. Or someone would me chasing me and I’d swim to safety.
What are your childhood fears? Have you conquered any of them?