TWO LOUISES

Just when I think he’s starting to get it, he sails out into the middle of the deep end and starts flapping his appendages like a sea turtle caught in netting.  I tell him, you’re not doing yourself any favors by testing, testing.  A minute ago you were calm, moving efficiently, in control.

Yeah, he says, but I don’t want to use the wall as a crutch.

I know and by doing so you’re still making the wall your focus, and you’re not in your body.  (In your body. That’s one of the phrases I use a lot teaching swimming to adults afraid in water.  Whose other body can you be in?  That gets a few laughs.)

Can you feel the difference, I ask, between what you were doing a few minutes ago and when you were flailing in the middle?  If you cultivate fear, you get fear. Cultivate comfort, you get comfort.

Yeah, I know, he says, but you have to realize, there are two Louises.

Well one of them is telling you lies.

After class, leaving the pool, he tells me, I’m going fishing tomorrow on the San Joaquin and I’m not going to have an ounce of fear.  I don’t know which Louis is talking.

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