Have I shared with you the lessons I learned when I attempted to swim across the straits?
In our teenage years, my sister and I used to hit the pool every weekend as we improved our strokes and stamina. Back and forth and back and forth. And when I was at college I continued that practice with my fellow students and we kind of "challenged" each other with new targets each year.
We would attend summer camp every year out in the nature where there will be opportunities to be away from studies and ponder on life and its philosophies. And these camp sites were chosen with the most basic of facilities so we would have opportunities to stretch, toughen up and grow.
We would swim across lakes or sleep in tents out in the open or something like that. Sometimes raccoons and squirrels visited us at night. Although summer was sunny and bright but the water in the lake was cold. Getting into the water was winning half the battle.
And I felt great when I made it across the lake in beautiful camp Kanawana, Quebec. I thought my training has prepared me well for this and I am ready to take on more challenges.
Fast forward to graduation. During one annual camp held at Pulau Ubin, Singapore (this was many years ago, the island does not look the same now) a group of us decided to swim across, touched the tip of Johor and looped back to Ubin.
Please do not ask me why I did that. The boys were going and I was not going to just sit around and be left out of the game. That was too exciting a challenge to not participate in.
Thinking back that was not the wisest thing to do. It was an impromptu suggestion; we had not planned it with security measures in place. I guess I was impulsive when I was younger. I did not think too much, I wanted to stretch myself and I went. Please do not attempt this on your own – we left our elders quite worried on that occasion, and were reprimanded appropriately when we got back.
I had not swam out into the open waters before that. I thought all the training and the workouts have prepared me for this. The shore did not look so distant but I had not factored in the waves, the wind, the traffic and my own reactions when the rubber meets the road.
I swam hard and before long was tired out by the waves. I had also swallowed mouthful of sea water when I panicked! I knew the moves, but I had not anticipated the waves and the wind. The shore suddenly seemed so far away and with every wave I got pushed back. And the harder I swam, the more tired I get.
I was not trained for this, I was not ready. There were also jelly fish and traffic going across the straits; the water was choppy and the waves strong. Fortunately, instinct kicked in and I learned to ride the waves and let it carry me before I take the next stroke.
It was slow but I was able to conserve energy and made it to and fro – with some treading of water in between as I regained my focus, my sense of direction and confidence. There were brief moments when I reached out and held onto the edge of the one little kayak that was "escorting" us.
Yes, it was not glamorous. I did not go unassisted all the way. But when you need to survive, you set your ego aside and do what is essential. I learned the trick of letting go and of going with the rhythm of the wave.
It is a nice feeling to be carried by the waters, and to know that when you are exhausted from swimming, you can tread water and float (or hang onto something that floats).
I am not advocating inactivity nor passive non-productivity. I believe in the discipline of work yet I know there is great wisdom in letting go and floating when the season is for us to nurture and to ponder on the really important things in life. Less is more. The more weights we carry, you faster we will sink.
So remember to float at times and we need to do that mentally, spiritually and physically. And we can apply this lesson to our work, our plans, our businesses, our relationships and our health. Sometimes nature wants us to step back and recharge and to get ready for the summer. When spring comes, when the timing is right, we will launch our new plan and get into action.
Floating is effortless and rejuvenating. And if you like you can get a rubber float so you can really lie on it and sip your glass of cocktail too! Even the rubber float has a lesson for us. Care to float?
By the way, you can sign up for free digital guides here to help you enjoy your floats here and now.