While our minister, Rev. Michael Leuchtenberger, is on sabbattical, we will fill our Musings space with insights from our members.
Swimming on the Surface
By Peg Herbert
There are different ways of looking at truth....moral truths, truth versus lies, and often, one of the hardest, is looking at the truth about ourselves. But sometimes what we perceive as a truth is proved wrong. You may have to “dig deep and push on” to learn new truths about your abilities and your endurance. To discover that what is true is that Plus est en vous.*
I was reminded of this once again as I swam in the cold waters of Lake Mooselookmeguntic one Fourth of July weekend when I discovered “swimming on the surface.” The day was hot and the water looked inviting so I got my suit and snorkel anticipating a vigorous workout. I dove in, put on my mask and began to swim. Immediately I realized that while the top couple of inches were warm, the depths were frigidly cold. I was doing the crawl and every down stroke brought a shock to my submerged arm. I thought I’d get used to it. But it remained as cold as ever. I switched to the breaststroke. Even that was painful. So I decided to try and keep my whole body in the top few inches of warm water. I found that by barely cupping my hands, I could do a surface breaststroke while gently frog kicking my feet. I began to slowly move through the water.
As I swam, I thought about what it means to swim on the surface, not just of the lake but also of life itself. I thought about those times I did submerge myself in discomfort. Going back to school at age 30 to finish my degree. What about that awful time that I skied across the lake in the below zero weather and ended up crying in the woods while I made my way to our cabin? Or biking 3700 miles across the country on a tandem bicycle with Tom? Would we even have built a life on Toothaker if either Tom or I were surface swimmers? For our years together, we have been plunging ourselves into uncomfortable situations. As a friend said after reading Tales from Toothaker, “I stayed up late finishing it and my only question is how come you two are still alive?”
While a day of surface swimming can provide a welcome respite from life’s challenges, one makes very little progress. When I think about the things that I feel best about, things that have pushed my limits and given me an intense sense of satisfaction, it is those times when I was willing to risk the frigid cold, dig deep and push on. And in the doing, learn new truths about what I am able to do.
*Tom’s Outdoor Class motto at CHS...More is in You
Adapted from “Surrounded by Stories, More Tales from Toothaker” by Peg Herbert