Sometimes a metaphor is just a little too perfect. This is one of those times.
It’s been a hot summer. Indiana has had several days of 100+ degree temperatures. Luckily my apartment complex has a pool. In my youth I was a pretty strong swimmer, and years later I still have the technique, if not the physical fitness that comes from endless hours and miles in the pool. A quick swim is still one of my favorite ways to relax, and the thing I love best is to tread water. The sense of weightlessness and unrestricted movement in three dimensions, it’s complete freedom. It doesn’t take much to keep me afloat, a languid egg beater kick and small sculling motions with my hands will keep my head above water.
At this point I should note that I was recently hired for a new full-time job. Prior to my new position I had worked for several years at a series of temp-gigs. They were low-paying jobs, providing just enough to pay my bills, late, in a good month. They were also stressful. Maybe the job duties themselves weren’t pressure cookers, but the fact that the job was temporary, with no days off, no prospects for advancement, and no respect made them harrowing in a way that is hard to explain. The lack of sick days, in a very real way, contributed to a general illness that I couldn’t shake.
But the new job is better! It pays enough to catch up all my neglected maintenance. Even set a little aside for emergencies. It’s not easy, but it’s secure.
So I let myself relax. More than I have in years.
I went to the pool, struck out for the deep end, closed my eyes and just swam in one spot for a bit. – At least that’s what I thought I was doing. To my terror I opened my eyes and found myself looking at the other end of the pool. I’d somehow spun myself 180 degrees. I thought for sure I would have noticed a change in position. Surely I’d have felt it when I was spinning around. But no. I don’t even know if I went clockwise or counter.
Amazed I tried it again, this time trying to stay on-course. But when I opened my eyes I was twisted all around again. Just like I am in my professional life. For too long I’ve taken my eyes off my goal. Spent too long treading water, just trying to keep from drowning in debt and despair and swimming in circles.
I need to do better. Keep conscious of where I am and what I’m doing. To not lose sight of the things I want and what I need to do to get there. I need to make a plan to get myself where I want to go. Time for relaxation is over.