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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.

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