I've been swimming in Maine ponds, lakes, and oceans since I could walk, and I don't think I will ever get sick of the "earth" feeling when we jump into a natural body of water. However, since we had a pool in the backyard I spent many of afternoons–after a hot little league softball game usually–in the pool, typically with my sister and sometimes my brother. Now, even with the copious amounts of swimming I did in my childhood, I never quite mastered the freestyle stroke until I had one year of college under my belt. (Yes, that's okay to laugh at, we'll come back to this). Let me explain, as a kid, I would dive underwater only, not above water or else I'd sink, and do breast strokes until my arms were noodles and my legs felt gooey. Only then would I venture to the surface and breech, like a humpbacked whale, and then doggy paddle like hell to the ladder.
Now, picture this: it's a nice Saturday afternoon in Auburn, Maine, where no one had no worries until Sunday afternoon. My sister and I are swimming around and then my dad, who was watching, compared me to a dolphin. It instantly inspired my sister and I to play "dolphin trainer" with real, rewarding, goldfish crackers to reinforce good dolphin behavior, such as retrieving five sunken rings or jumping into the pool in a "dolphin-esk" way. If you're having trouble picturing this, imagine two kiddos, one doing an odd dolphin/dog hybridized swimming motion and the other throwing crackers into the pool at the oddly swimming blur in the water.
Looking back, I feel a plethora of emotions. Yes, it sounds absolutely shaming and odd, and I really do wonder what the neighbors thought of us splashing and squeaking like dolphins with echo location–yet still bumping into the side of the pool. While I reminisce, I long to resonate with those creative bursts that my sister and I would share when I, the dolphin, would figure out how to dive and then spin–and still pick up two sunk rings. It was thrilling. Being in Maine for the summer provided endless opportunity, if you just add a little creativity to the mix. That's how my sister, my brother, and I were raised, thinking out of the box and making the most out of the materials at hand.
This was taught to us in a unique way of simply not worrying about the minor details. The phrase, "minor details" is a personal catch phrase that my college roommates will laugh at. But while they were busy doing the freestyle perfectly, to me it was restricting. Going to the Y and learning to freestyle swim with a class, as useful as the basics can be, such as breathing rhythmically, it was still limiting the creativity behind my hybridized dolphin/dog swim move.
The creativity was what ignited a passion within, the ability to think about the sea creatures zooming through the ocean waves and encrypt that image into a game where I earned crackers. How could a child think that was lame? When I remember it like this, I don't feel odd or shameful. Instead, I feel gratitude and appreciate for this passion of the thrill in the path of going against the grain. It's hard to go against what other people think, a prime example being the dolphin/dog hybrid move, it surely is not one that is efficiently– or easily learned.The understanding that acting with this passion enables the thought process that continuously fuels the big picture. The image being two kids just splashing around in a pool, or two siblings brainstorming how to cross this stream to lead to a whole lake full of adventures. It's these kids developing critical thinking skills and reinforcing these ideas into their adult lives, slowly but surely, turning into adults that are able to approach a problem with varying perspectives, able to think carefully and tirelessly until they exhaust the never-ending ignited passion lying within, initially sparked by the freedom of creativity.
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