Swimming Lessons

I wrote this text last year. It sat in my Notes on my iPhone and I nearly discarded it many times. I wanted to publish it here, but was worried it wasn’t smart or clever enough. This year, I’d like to write more. I always enjoyed the process of brainstorming, editing, publishing, and getting thoughts and stories out—so here it is.

Over the past month, I’ve been taking swimming lessons. I’m not sure why I never learned as a kid… my parents signed me up for lessons, I spent a lot of time in many of Sudbury’s 330 lakes, and always enjoyed a pool when staying a hotel. But still, at age 27, I still didn’t know how to swim.

Here I am, about to enter the Gatchell Pool.

The First Step

Signing up for lessons was humiliating. Walking up to the counter at a swim club, where the person serving you is likely a competitive swimmer, or at the very least a good swimmer. The young guy chuckled and said “really?” when I asked to sign up for lessons—but I was determined, and wanted to learn. Thankfully, my fiancée Terrie was supportive and pushed me to sign up when I was ready to walk away.

Learning, Slowly

After a few weeks, I was learning, but not as quickly as I wanted to. I’m usually a quick learner (I taught myself HTML when I was 13, learned how to use design software as a teenager to mock up album covers for my bands and friends’ bands, which eventually led me to a career in design). Then it happened: I decided to try tipping my head into the water while holding my legs up with a flotation device.

For once, I wasn’t afraid to completely let go.

Next thing, I ditched the floating device and was able to float without any assistance. Moments went by, and I was swimming, end-to-end, easily. I learned that it wasn’t that I couldn’t swim, but that I was simply afraid of dipping my head into the water without support. Once I did, it felt amazing. I’ve never felt connected to water this way in my life. Water became something I wanted to be part of, not afraid of—all I had to do was get past my own personal boundary of letting go without support.

What I’ve Learned

Over the past few months, lots has changed in my life. From moving out of our home in Sudbury, ON to Los Angeles, CA to joining the team at Edenspiekermann.

I’ve learned a lot from swimming that applies in life: You can fight change, or you can float with it. Learning something new can sometimes be frustrating… but if you stick with it, you’ll eventually figure it out. Whatever you do, water will find its way.

Going off the deep end! Happy 2016 everybody!

Frank is a Product Designer at Headspace. He was previously at Edenspiekermann and co-founded Bureau.

You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.