I almost drowned during volleyball practice in high school. I can’t remember if it was junior or senior year, but I remember how it started.
We had a new coach that year, one who loved workouts and weight training. Partly because we were young and partly because we were lazy, her presence wasn’t a welcome change.
She took us to the natatorium one day and assigned plyometrics.
I complained because I was lazy.
I complained because I was scared. I didn’t know how to swim.
We stayed in the shallow end in waters less than my height or shorter. We skipped, we hopped, we lunged. We did high knees and jumped imaginary rope.
It was our first workout in the water so we were giddy, albeit annoyed.
It was the high knees that did it.
I lost my footing on the fourth or fifth knee raise and went plummeting dramatically under the water.
Time stood still. I closed my eyes at first, flailing without abandon. My inner narration was remarkably reasonable and calm. She talked to me like a friend would, relaxed and comforting: “You’re okay, just put your feet down. It’s not too deep here. You can stand up. Just put your feet down. Find your footing. Stand up. You can do it. Just stand up.”
I nodded to inner me, but I couldn’t stop flailing. I kicked and shouted imaginary screams, but Superman wasn’t coming.
When I couldn’t find the ground, the panic started to set in. I could see my teammates laughing and pointing. I could hear them cheering, almost chanting—“Stand up! Stand up! Find the bottom. Find the bottom!”
I didn’t have the freedom to be angry. Inner calm subsided and there was only the fear of death and dying. There was only the horror of drowning slowly while watching friends watch me drown. Watching friends watch and wait for me to find the bottom and pick myself up.
It must have been seconds, but it felt like years. When she pulled me out I was shivering, but not from the cold. All giddiness had subsided, but the echo stayed with me, “Find the bottom. Find the bottom.”
Find the bottom.
Sometimes the bottom is the beginning. It’s just the point or the place where you started. It’s the point of origin. It’s the focal point. It’s the center point. It’s home base where everyone and everything must return.
Sometimes the bottom is the top. It’s the peak. It’s the pinnacle. It’s the mount. It’s the point at which everything you need and everything you want can and will finally be actualized. It’s the point where you can say that everything up to this point has served its purpose. Everything up to this point was needed and was necessary and was an integral part of the story. Everything I’ve lost and everything I’ve given up were for this life-changing moment.
Sometimes the bottom is the bottom. It’s where the rock is. It’s the point at which you can go no lower, sink no further. You can endure or you can suffer no more. It’s the point where your anger overwhelms your fear, and for the first (in only a few moments) you know that you are capable of absolutely anything.
Find the bottom.
Determine whether it’s the bottom or the top. Decide whether this moment will be the one that changes you. Find the freedom to be angry, but don’t waste it on small battles.
Don’t waste it on small victories.
Don’t waste it on people who wish that you were smaller.
Don’t waste it on journeys that don’t cause growth or bear fruit.
Don’t bury it where it will sprout up inside of you.
Find the bottom.
1. I received some unexpected news and some unexpected intervention that was nothing short of divine.
2. We celebrated my niece’s 7th birthday yesterday. She did my make-up and polished my nails so I wouldn’t “look so old.”
1. We finally started to talk about money.
1. Pride and prejudice. 45.
2. Healthcare reform and failing to help Puerto Rico.