09 abril, 2012

Learning a lesson

A few months ago, I signed up for swimming lessons. Throughout the registration process I was asked –many times- if I knew how to swim. Without a shadow of a doubt, I answered affirmatively to all of them.
So, my first class came and I felt ready.  Having on my swimming suit, goggles, and cap, I was approached by my instructor, who asked –again- if I knew how to swim. I said “yes”. Then he asked me when was the last time that I swam, I couldn’t remember precisely.  “It’s been a long time”, I said.
Inside the water I had a flashback: a four year old little girl playing with a ball in the free time given after the swimming lesson, the ball slipping through her hands and landing in the middle of the swimming pool, the little girl diving into the water thinking that she could swim… I couldn’t, I went down to the bottom of the swimming pool as if I had an anchor tied to my body. I was drowning and not even one of the instructors seemed to notice. My long curly hair moved in the water, crying for help.
Fortunately, my mom, who was sitting in the bleachers, saw the whole thing and came to my rescue, diving in with her clothes and shoes on. Quite a show.
After that “incident”, I continued, for many years, with my “swimming education”. Therefore, when anyone asked me if I knew how to swim, I automatically said “yes”, with not even a trace of consideration to the idea that maybe, and just maybe, I didn’t.
Although being inside the water made me consider that idea, I chose to swim as if I knew how to do it (typical of me), trying to remember how to put together the movements and the breathing. After 10 strokes, I couldn’t continue, I swallowed so much water that I’m sure it even got into my brain.
Despite the commotion caused by the given amount of water in my body, I came to realize the shocking truth: after all those years of swimming lessons, I never learned how to swim.
I went back home and my sons, who are excellent swimmers, asked me how it went. I told them that I couldn’t swim. Even though they didn’t believe me, each one of them gave me all kinds of explanations on how to do it. Outside the water it’s really easy, of course.
My second class came and (this is the best part of the story) my husband, who is the sweetest man on Earth,  called me saying that he had an early meeting and that he was going to meet me at the swimming school so he could see my swimming :-s
Oh, boy! That day I was a complete disaster, I couldn’t get to do anything remotely right; on top of that, I bumped into one of the swimmers and I lost my floater, which went to the other lane, blocking the way. However, I looked up to see my husband and he was tenderly smiling at me.  I smiled back feeling absolutely happy that my swimming skills had no effect whatsoever on his feelings for me.
After the lesson, he was waiting for me in the parking lot. Once I approached him, he looked me in the eye and said, “I never thought that you could swim so badly, you really don’t know how to do it. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is your courage, determination, and willingness to learn”. Then he hugged me. :-)
My swimming lessons haven’t taught me how to swim yet, but they have taught me other things:
1.  They taught me that when it comes to learning you can never assume the outcome based on the time spent in class.
2. They taught me that theory –or even practice- in a non-immersive environment (outside the water) is useless and pointless.
3. They taught me to be humble because even though I’m good at many things, I’m not good at everything… but I can learn.

#Change11 #CCK12  #CMC11

8 comentarios:

  1. Like your concluding summary Verónica. Good points!

  2. what a great story, thanks for sharing! The lessons you list at the end seem very wise. Good luck with your swimming and learning in the future.

    1. Hi, Ben,
      I'm glad you like it. Thanks for your comment.

      Kindest regards,

  3. hey, interesting story and wonderfully told! muy bien! i hope you do not mind that in the future, if occasion calls for it, i may tell the story to my students, with attribution, of course?

    1. I don't mind at all... sharing is the whole point of blogging, isn't it?

      Thanks for your nice comment.

      Saludos :)

  4. Really, really great story. Now I'll have to ask myself what do I tell people I can do without recognizing that I can't apply the basic skills in an actual situation. Rather than feeling badly - maybe it really doesn't matter. Perhaps I have to look deeper to discover what actually does matter. Thank you

    1. Hi, Ruth,
      Yes, we kind of "forget" what is important in life.
      Thanks for your nice comment :-)


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