Tags: beach, childhood memories, pool, summer activities, summertime, swimming
When I was young, my family belonged to the town pool. Every weekend over the summer was spent at the pool with several other families who had kids my age. At day camp, we spent a lot of time at that same pool. Like many kids, I loved to swim, and I was pretty good at it. It went way beyond Marco Polo. My friends and I did underwater flips, handstands, and races across three pools alternating strokes — crawl, breast, back, side, and if we were daring enough, butterfly. We would do flips off the diving board and rate each other. We would spend hours at the pool and weren’t looking to get tan. We were simply having fun.
This lasted well into middle school, and fell off in high school, right around the time that I started wearing contacts, thus rendering my underwater vision efforts futile. Not that that was the reason I stopped swimming regularly — the whole growing up thing certainly played a role. The summer no longer symbolized pool time — not in the same way. The summer was about hanging out with friends, going to the beach and driving around. Sure, there was the occasional pool party and the few times we snuck into some guarded pools, but Getting tan mattered a lot more and when it wasn’t summer, it wasn’t rare to find me in the the tanning booth. My relationship with water went from the sprinklers to the sidelines where I could show off my bikini.
I remember going swimming in a pool in my freshman year of college and realizing how long it had been since I had been in a pool. I had really missed it. I decided to take a water aerobics class the next semester to get my exercise and to get back in the water.
Still it is rare that I get to enjoy a good outdoor pool these days. It’s a special treat, and it always reminds me of my childhood. I remember how daring I was. So many of the things I did in the water as a child I wouldn’t dare to do now. I remember so many laughs and so much fun. I remember slip and slide and water parks. I remember fringe on my two-pieces. I remember going to the pool not for the hot lifeguards. I remember the pure fun of being in a pool, back when life was simple.
So this summer, I am going to do everything I can to get in the water. I could certainly use some simplicity in my life!
Tags: American Dream, getting what you want, merit
In a country that prides itself on freedom, we are given some privileges that we often take for granted, simply because it is hard to imagine not having the right to make choices. When I see articles on the injustices happening in other countries, see commercials with starving children, I can’t picture myself ever living in that kind of oppression. I remember how lucky I am to have been born where and when I was born, even though I know my world, our country, isn’t perfect.
So what comes with the culture of this country is often the attitude that we all deserve certain things. If you work hard or scheme successfully, you can live the American Dream. This creates an environment of competition, of greed, of comparing what we have to what others have. Jealousy is born, followed by hatred, and we lose sight of what we were originally looking to achieve. Many people will get things that they don’t deserve, or didn’t earn. Sometimes luck and timing and sacrifice will be the reasons why people get what they get. Sometimes, you will be able to say, “I’m really happy that happened to soandso. He really earned it.”
But what it really comes down to is the one question: What is it that we all deserve? We all deserve the freedom to live the way we want to live so long as it is not damaging to others. We deserve the right to make our own choices and our own mistakes. We deserve the right to disagree, to stand up for what we believe in. We all deserve the opportunity to fall in love. But what we all deserve more than anything else is to be happy.
But what makes people happy differs greatly, and some will never be happy with what they have. The balance of always wanting more and being grateful for what one has is off kilter — the bigger picture of just how lucky we are to be living in this moment is often forgotten. Happiness can be simple and requires us all to be grateful for what we have. Happiness requires us to work hard for what we want and not to expect that it should just be handed to us like it may be for others.
Happiness starts with a smile and a humble attitude. Happiness starts with the gratitude of receiving another day to make it right.
Tags: finding middle ground, life's obstacles, tough decisions
It’s that space in between. It’s that uneasy choice you have to make, and the answer isn’t clear. It’s that cloud of doubt hanging over your head. It’s what your heart wants vs. what your mind thinks is the right thing. It’s what you believe in vs. what society expects of you.
It’s the gray area. The world is not black and white. There is a huge space in between, where decisions get lost, where the unexpected happens, where life takes interesting turns. It’s the space where you often learn the most, if you open yourself up to the possibility that what looks like the natural course of things is not in fact the road you wish to take. It’s the place where pride goes to die, and humility breathes new life. It’s the place where you feel naked, humble, true. It’s the space where strength builds, where the world changes, and nothing is ever the same.
Unfortunately, not everywhere embraces this gray area. Many will life the rest of their lives following the rules set forth before them. Many will never test conventional wisdom in order to possibly find enlightenment. Some will take the world as it is and think that nothing more can be done to make a difference. Many will do what is expected of them. Many won’t take risks, won’t experience a moment of fear for a moment of exhilaration, or a moment of courage to obtain a moment of success. Many won’t put their heart out on the line, and many won’t experience love. Many will shut the door.
A very few will march to the beat of a different drum. Very few will open their hearts and minds to the possibilities. Very few will embrace the gray area, and paint the world with all they have learned. I dare say these are the few who will change the world, or maybe just the course of their personal lives.
Because you could probably live happily on more than one path in your life, and you don’t always have to take the obvious, or easiest route. If you embrace the gray area, really explore what you are capable of, why you make the decisions and mistakes that you do, you may find yourself on a totally new path.
Life is meant for exploration. Go learn something.