Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Speaking of balance

My jogging partner and dear friend Lacey asked me to speak at Enrichment night on balance. Apparently I need to watch what I rant about while running. My 10 minute tirade about someone who was not balanced during one of our morning runs seemed like an invitation to her. If I had just stuck to minding my own business... Oh well, I actually enjoyed speaking and preparing for my short talk.

Shortly after she asked me, I loaded my iPod with a collection of talks about balance and bombarded my ears with various authorities on finding balance in our lives. I was moved by the myriad of metaphors that speakers developed as they talked about their lives. From bicycle spokes, to spinning plates, to forming a family band, each speaker was able to artistically compare the fine tuning involved in balancing our lives to a topic that was dear to their hearts.

I struggled trying to figure out what analogy I would use. Could I talk about running? How 'bout scaffolding developing language skills? Or how would playing the piano relate?

Then as I was sending my brother some info about swimming, I realized that every other sentence in my favorite swimming book mentioned balance. As I explored the metaphor, it grew and developed on its own. To my dismay, every time I sat down to write out my talk, I was able to jot down an outline, but I couldn't flesh out my "script" like I had done for every other talk in my life. So, I decided to take a leap of faith, and I presented my talk with a rough outline and a few quotes on hand.

Here are a few notes from the talk:

Swimming 101: Like most beginning swimmers I jumped in the pool ready to churn out laps. I swam as hard and as fast as I could only to exhaust myself before I even got across the pool. Not good, considering I had signed up to swim 500 meters in the ocean as part of a triathlon. So, in typical Jocelyn form, I found a book that taught me swimming form.

I learned that I was swimming along with my hips and legs dragging below the surface. Of course, like everyone else, I tried to correct this by kicking harder, but this made me more exhausted. Instead swimmers need to do what Terry Laughlin describes as "pressing your buoy" or leaning on your lungs.

I read that "proper balance in the water is not a gift from nature. It's something we learn through practice," (Laughlin, 32). So, I went to the pool regularly with my now water-logged manual and began working through the drills, focusing on pressing my lungs into the water and leaning on the water.

The next lesson was about rolling. Like most beginner swimmers I swam flat in the water, but to swim efficiently you have to roll from one side to the other. Listen to how beautifully Laughlin describes it:
Freestyle becomes graceful, powerful, a feat of intelligent body engineering instead of a tiring exercise in plowing through the water. It becomes a series of long glides linked by quick rolls as you stroke and change sides. Each time, your body has a working side--the one you're pulling with-and a sliding side--the one that's making your body longer so the pull delivers all the speed and distance it can. The longer you stay on your side in each stroke cycle, the farther and faster your body will travel. Swimming also becomes much more restful and a lot less work. It even looks easier. (Laughlin 44)

Just as in swimming, life requires constant practice as we fine tune our stroke. Balance isn't a feat that we magically achieve one day, but it is about constant adjustments and readjustments. Balance doesn't involve finding the perfect place and standing still. Instead we need to roll back and forth as we reach for our goal on the other side of the pool.

We don't have to swim by our brute force alone, we can lean on the water: the living water of Christ. As we rely on scriptures to help us learn how to adjust our stroke to better lean on Christ, we will metaphorically swim farther and faster. When I try to muscle my way through life, I sink. When I turn my life to the Lord and focus on His will, I understand the beauty of gliding through the water.

1 comment:

Grammyzanne said...

Beautifully done Jocelyn. Assume your presentation was well received.