The year in which we dare to hope

Sunday, January 3rd

I haven’t launched myself into 2021 yet. It’s like I’m standing on the edge of an Olympic-sized pool, wondering if I have the strength to make it to the other side, thinking perhaps of holding my breath the whole way and never having to come up for air. Once, I could have done it. Many, many years ago. Now it’s no longer an option. I’m just hoping the water isn’t too cold. I’m just hoping when I come up for air, the sky won’t be on fire.

Heaven by Connemoira

Competitive swimming is a lonely sport. Once you hit the water, you race yourself. Those who like to win will tell you they are aware of their competitors and driven by the need to beat them but, after I would hit the water, my only desire was to swim fast enough to hear my heart race in my ears. Driven by adrenaline, my arms became oars and my legs paddle-wheels. My body, then a machine, my mind was free to go elsewhere. I have my best thoughts underwater where, if you can hear the cheers, they are like muffled bubbles. Generally I would get to the other side with no idea how I did, disappointed I was back in the world where winning was everything.

Perhaps I’m afraid of that first slice into unknown waters. 2021 already means two postponed memorials to attend and now, it looks, sadly, like a third. This latest passing was a swimmer far more gifted at the sport than me. He’s standing on that mount now ready to take on his last medley. Go Danny. Remember the sacred mantra: Butter, Back, Breast and Free.

Danny Wissmar

Yes, it was sadly covid.

And so I tell myself: “When you first hit the water, ignore the initial jolt. Keep your head down; your arms rising from and falling beneath the surface; your legs beating out the rhythm … take as few breaths as possible and you will get to the other side of the pool.”

31 thoughts on “The year in which we dare to hope

  1. Jan, once in a while I walk down to the community pool and swim a few laps of Breast stroke – it is the only stroke I ever felt truly confident with. Even so, I understand that sense of solitude and letting my mind wander that you mentioned. I need to do that more often.

    I am lucky to not know anyone who has passed from Covid and very few who have had the virus. So sad that your friend’s life ended that way. Nice tribute.

    • The scary thing is they’re so overwhelmed that they’re starting to ration care. They decided my brother in law had little chance and so they disconnected him and just let him die. So now is definitely not the time to let down your guard!

  2. Thank you, Jan. “Dare to Hope” is both moving and inspiring. Please give my condolences to Joel and to each of your families and friends who have lost loved ones this year.

    On Tue, Jan 5, 2021 at 1:19 PM Saying Nothing in Particular wrote:

    > JT Twissel posted: ” Sunday, January 3rd I haven’t launched myself into > 2021 yet. It’s like I’m standing on the edge of an Olympic-sized pool, > wondering if I have the strength to make it to the other side, thinking > perhaps of holding my breath the whole way and never hav” >

  3. I often write about water, about myself swimming, drowning…It IS a lonely sport, come to think of it, and I don’t know if that’s why I love it that much, or is it just that there’s nth like water, don’t know. Sometimes I wish when I touch it I could stay there forever.

    Wonderful post, J.

  4. I am so very sorry, Jan. I admire those who are blessed with the ability to swim. I can barely make a lap in the swimming pool. For me a good swimmer has always been a superman (or superwoman), a lonely dot in the waves with the dark abyss beneath. Fearless and indestructible. Sadly, it is not always true.
    Connemoira’s painting looks like water to me. Hugs ❤

    • Thank you Inese. I think some people are more buoyant that others – neither my brother or my sister can swim with ease. Connemoira loved Lake Tahoe – which has very calm waters. I’m sure that was her inspiration\

  5. Hi Jan,

    When I was younger, I used to swim in the sea at night. It gave me a strange perspective on the shore and sometimes the tide would catch me and I’d float along until I could swim back in. It was the sort of tide that pulled you along the shore and not out to sea. A reliable tide. I should write something about that … the reliable tide. Sorry for your losses. RIP. Love. Duke

    • Thanks Duke. I believe my brother-in-law is at peace finally. He went really fast as though he had no fight left him anymore. His speed record (in the breast stroke) held for many years but he was most proud of being the Buffalo Gun Shooting Champion of Utah.

    • Duke, I had the pleasure of floating in some of those side-ways sides in the Gulf of Mexico, as a child and young woman. My father called them rip-tides and warned they could take you far before you realized it. When I got to California, I learned that the Pacific Ocean was no where near peaceful, and its fierce tides and cold temperatures made the Gulf seem like a friendly bathtub.

      (Funny too bc my father seldom warned of anything, believing survival to be the best teacher.)

  6. I haven’t been swimming in years but I take your meaning. It I can here a lonely activity. I’m commenting here later in the week in which your wrote this post, now that we are definitely into the chaotic waters of 2021. My condolences on your losses.

  7. Jan, your first paragraph struck me to the core. You captured the feeling of welcoming the chance for a fresh start, fresh water, another year, yet so tired and beat up, fearful the air you breathe will be on fire.

    As for Danny, it’s just a rotten shame. Your tribute is touching, I wish you hadn’t had to write it.

    • The hard thing for the family about Danny’s loss is that they’re so short of ICU beds in Utah that they decided not to even try to save him. But being in the medical field, his family sadly understands.

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