Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Dialog of "Can't"s

A few nights ago while coaching practice, I came across a very disgruntled and mood-struck preteen swimmer. Somehow this brief interaction stuck with me. I think that it may have been far more important and metaphoric than I was willing to admit at the time. It all went something like this...

Preteen Swimmer: "I'm not going to do that. I can't--cannot." (She says as a way of evading the noted dime that was agreed upon for using the word can't in practice.)
Me: "You're up... go!"
Preteen Swimmer: "But I can't!" as she pushed off the wall to attempt that infamous set of underwater dolphin kick on her back. She was most upset about getting water up her nose every single time.

Once she returned back at the wall, she had developed some ammunition--no doubt, from the combination of the two laps of swimming she had just done and that downward spiral that she was headed quickly for.

Me: "Five seconds, get ready..."
Preteen Swimmer: "No! I'm NOT doing it!"
Me: "Go!" And she went, most likely trailed by a rain cloud and look of disgust as she blew not-so-fierce bubbles which lacked the necessary gusto to keep the water out of her sinuses.

After this, I knew that I had pushed her hard enough and now it was time for a lesson. Little did I know that this lesson would apply to me as well.

Me: "Okay Preteen Swimmer, I understand that you don't think that you can do this set. I get that. I really do. There are so many times in life where you doubt your talents, but the important thing is to find the courage simply to try."

Wow. Was that a famous quote? How did I get so smart? Remember that...

Preteen Swimmer just nodded, and almost with a smile pushed off the wall simply to try again.

She completed the set, not perfectly and not without getting water up her nose; however something had changed completely within her. She now saw the set for what it truly was: a challenge. It was no longer a punishment or a way to self-ridicule. She now saw promise in her abilities, both mentally and physically. She, more importantly, saw the promise of those two identities melting into one. For the first time, Preteen Swimmer and I were one in the same. At the same moment, we both encountered the realization of infinite self-capacities and the endless opportunities that lay ahead when understanding the weight of such power.

We both left practice that night with a new smile and a new lesson.

No comments:

Post a Comment