This morning at 9:00 it was hot already. I’ve been wanting to go for a swim in the pool at our apartment complex ever since we moved here six months ago, but never got up the courage. I don’t like showing off my leg braces to the world, so walking down to the pool in shorts presents a problem. In addition, the braces are clunky and awkward to pull on and off and leave beside the pool.
This morning I discovered a solution. It turns out I don’t need to wear braces in order to put on shoes; I just slipped them on over my bare feet and headed for the pool. It was totally worth the risk and the work. I had the pool all to myself, did some laps and floated on my back for awhile before heading back up for coffee and breakfast, invigorated and ready for the day.
I love the quiet underwater, and the way my senses awaken when I let my body float. My mental chatter fades and the bright purple morning glories climbing the wall explode into life. I feel my breath, my heartbeat.
I’m approaching my writing the same way I approached the pool this morning, taking risks, trusting myself. First I discovered a character. From the silence, my awareness of self emerged first. Who is this character, living this life? I want to get to know him better, find out what he loves, what he fears, how to challenge him.
Then there’s setting. Stilling my mind in the pool, I allow myself to slowly come to awareness of all the sensations of my surroundings, from the bright, drowsy warmth of the morning to the cool water. Now, writing in the semi-darkness of my office, I’m acutely aware of my world but centered in it rather than distracted by it.
And what’s a story without conflict? By confronting my own fear, facing it and conquering it, I prepare myself for the next challenge. Those quiet moments of reflection, swimming, stilling my mind in the silence, feel completely honest and vulnerable, allowing me to feel the character, setting, and conflict of my life. Taking that first risk, I open a space for more awareness throughout the day, and for deeper honesty and perception in my writing.