Friday, June 16, 2017

We are the Water Lilies

Twice a week I join a group of women that I think of as water lilies. We share some characteristics. Water lily leaves are large and buoyant, as are we. Both the plants and the women have to be rooted, the lilies into mud. We've all gone through some mud in life which trained us to stay strong in unsettling conditions. 

On the other hand, an overhead drone would show us to be struggling to maintain position in the water. I'd love to see how we look as we bob up and down at different rates, lean to one size, scull like mad and scissor kick until the water of the pool is rocking with little waves.  I think of the June Taylor dancers on the Jackie Gleason TV show back in the 50's, when the ladies did routines filmed from the birds-eye-view. We're not like them.

Start the clip at about 1:30 to get the effect I want you to see.
If the youtube video isn't showing, here's the link. 

We only remotely resemble synchronized swimmers. We pitch and roll awkwardly. We can't all suspend ourselves in water for more than 20 seconds.  Our kicks are more spastic than controlled. While most of us face right for exercises there are always a couple facing left, and thus collisions. 

The group ranges across three decades, from 50 years old, up. One morning we shorties huddled in the shallow end, I swore the round-faced lady with a sunny smile and short-cropped white hair was my grandmother. This is a class of grannies.  But seeing her, I realized I felt more like a granddaughter. 

It takes a lot of guts to reveal lumpy, roly-poly bodies in front of others. And an equal amount of courage to demonstrate our lack of athleticism. I'm not going to take up running or long distance biking at this age, unlike my husband's cousin who competes in triathalons. She swims regularly in Seattle's frigid waters, sleek as a seal in her wet suit. Back here in the fifties-plus community pool, we hang out of our bathing suits in unbecoming ways. 

Nonetheless, there are moments when we manage to kick our legs with toes pointed, one arm gracefully arched overhead, and we feel like ballerinas. The Fantasia  ballerinas, but ballerinas nonetheless. 

I've enjoyed much about this class: working on balance, the bouyancy that lets me jump higher than I ever could on land, and giggling when I can't stay planted on the floor and drift sideways like seaweed in the current. Yesterday we took our foam "noodles" and bent side to side, pushing the ends under water for a little resistance. From the front of the pool I looked back. It looked like a pastel-colored rainbow had split into individual arcs dancing across the water's surface.

My water lily analogy breaks down here, but there is beauty in that pool.