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Water, God, and the Perfect Handstand

by Carilyn on July 13, 2014


As much as I love to run, my moments of perfection are usually in the water. The ocean. The pool.

When I am in Los Angeles, I swim at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, the site of the 1984 Olympics, and when I am in El Paso, I swim in my backyard. I love both equally. Swimming in LA is serious business – people don’t appreciate someone doing back handsprings and acting like a mermaid in their swim lane – and swimming in El Paso is a little more The Graduate-ish.

First, I jump in. It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing: running togs, my pajamas, or occasionally, an actual bathing suit. You see, I never really plan my plunges. I usually get a glimpse of the pool, and like some strange Svengali, it lures me out and before I know it, I’m 15 feet underwater pretending I’m a deep sea diver. Yes, I know I’m 46 years old, but my inner swimmer doesn’t seem to care. My inner swimmer appears to be about 6.

Yesterday, I finished a 10 miler on the treadmill. Nothing special. But then I went into the kitchen for a glass of water, found myself staring at the clear white-blue rectangle, and started moving out before I’d even finished my drink. I was a sonambulist, only to be awoken after I had leapt and plunged.

Yes, I know it is weird.

After a half hour of “flomping around” (the official term for diving to the bottom repeatedly, doing back handsprings and handstands, jumping up and down in the shallow end), I pulled myself up onto a raft. As I lay on my stomach, the sun baking the backs of my legs, the gentle motion of the water lulling me into a semi-coma, the only thought I could form was, “This is what perfection feels like.”

And I felt very lucky.

In my obsessive watching of documentaries, I find myself drawn to people who do anything passionately – crossword puzzles, video game building, clogging. Whatever. To me, there is nothing more fascinating than watching someone fully immersed, fully engaged. It is God personified, to me. It is God showing up and making himself known in another’s pure joy. And it makes me joyful – even if I don’t find my own joy in crossword puzzles (I’m not smart enough), video gaming (I’m too old to understand); clogging (I’m…not a clogger). I see others’ joy and I feel joy.

But when I’m in the water, I feel my own pure joy, God showing up for me.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Char July 13, 2014 at 4:57 pm

That sounds like fun. But I won’t be emulating it until winter disappears.
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Kim July 13, 2014 at 6:35 pm

This just made me smile!!
I’m one of those how just sticks my feet in to cool off – I rarely (never) actually jump into any body of water!!
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Carilyn July 14, 2014 at 7:04 am

Char, I always forget that we are in opposite seasons. Definitely no swimming for you – unless you plan to do a polar bear plunge (yikes!).

Carilyn July 14, 2014 at 7:05 am

Kim, I think people are either plungers, or not. I feel about snow, the way it sounds like you do about water. I like to look at it, but have very little interest in getting in it :)

SteveQ July 14, 2014 at 8:09 am

I’m guessing you saw the documentary “Wordplay” about cruciverbalists. Some of those people look just like a meeting of autistic adults – especially the one that thinks he’s won the crossword contest only to find out he didn’t finish it. [I do the NY Times in 5 minutes. In pen, of course.]
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Marcia July 14, 2014 at 9:55 am

Although I am so not a swimmer, I’d totes be flomping around after every hot long run if I had a blue rectangle handy. I do love me a good crossword puzzle though.

olga July 14, 2014 at 10:35 am

Sounds like me in the yarn store:) or in the high mountains! Perfection!
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Carilyn July 14, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Olga, isn’t so awesome to have something to be passionate about? And I love your knitting!

Carilyn July 14, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Yes, Marcia, the flomping is the best part!

Carilyn July 14, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Steve, I have seen it – one of my favorites, along with the clogging one and the chess one. Today, I watched Trash Dance (about trash trucks being choreographed into a dance) and loved it, too!

Kirstin C August 13, 2014 at 11:35 am

I love picturing you plunging in and doing your acrobatics.
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