Faulty Vision

I was convinced I saw a mongoose lying on the side of the neighbour’s garden but when I approached it turned out to be a shriveled coconut shell.  There are many other ways that eyesight plays tricks.  I’m not scientific so I won’t go into boring details of how the messages to the brain become slower as aging occurs.  What I will say is that there are many times when this writer does not see at all, or sees when there is nothing to see.

Let me try to explain through a brain that is full of fog, or should I say Sahara dust (as we don’t get fog where I live in the Tropics).

I tend to be an inward judge often.  I go over in my mind the why’s, what’s and how come’s, and then come up with superior ‘should be’s’ or ‘shouldn’t be’s’, almost giving a verdict before all the facts are known.  If I could just get a little closer, see what is really there, instead of what seems to be there, and don’t assume.   Things are not what they seem.  Be more understanding and reach out … It costs nothing.

What I explained above is how I can be inwardly towards other people.  Please don’t take it personally – my brain often does not work the way I want it to.  Yet my heart … that, I seem to have more control over.  Has my heart hardened over the years or am I just being true to myself?  Is that cliche?

I get angry with me, but even that I squash.   When I was little I would pound my chest when I had hiccups that would not go away, knowing it would just make them worse but frustratingly needing to do something.  Is it time to start that again, or maybe just scream at the top of my lungs when no one is around?

I had set myself a goal to write a blog post every week but after three I have already skipped a week.  I should not feel disappointed in myself, yet I do.  That niggle of a voice inside shrieks ‘failure’, ‘to be expected’, ‘just give up now’, ‘you’re not proving anything’, but the writer’s heart says ‘Press On’, and I do.

Faulty vision?  You be the judge.





Not seeing the wood for the trees?

The elderly man that sleeps in a clearing among the trees a couple of stones throw away from our home must have an interesting life.  His name is Keith, he is tall and slim, balding, walks barefoot most of the time, yet walks with a strong upright stride, never feeling the sharp stones or prickles that may be trodden on along the way.

He has chosen to live away from relatives. out in the open instead, away from the crowds, and embrace freedom his way.  It is not a life the world would understand.  He wears ragged clothes, selects from the spoils of garbage, may not talk for days, he is his own best friend.  He gets barked at by neigbourhood dogs, talked about for leaving garbage around and ridiculed by those who do not understand his way of life.  He does a lot of walking.

He has been in the same spot for over 25 years.  Sometimes he disappears for weeks, then reappears, maybe shaven, fed and with fresh clothes.  Usually in the rainy season, but I can’t be sure.  He may hibernate then.  Or he may be sick and nobody knows.

Keith has benefited from gifts from the passing food van lady, or from residents bringing him food, and he gets water from one of the ridge top garden taps during the night.  I should not begrudge him that.  He is seen wearing many varying shirts of different colours and sizes, some newish, but many old.  Trousers in the cooler 20 degree C “winters” and shorts in the summer.

I am often convicted when I walk my dogs past his humble abode, and glance through the trees towards the clearing.  I wonder, should I be doing more?  He has only ever asked for Vicks and cokes.  Vicks is for the right eye that he does not have, but I never give him that, instead I may clean the area gently with a cotton ball and water, and put a patch over it.  I have not done that for a long time though.

Is my own vision faulty?  Do I myself act like I have just a single eye? Explaining away to myself why the Vicks would not be good for his eye and yet not inviting him in for a shower and a warm drink of Milo, or better yet, an ice cold coke?

This morning while I walked and the dogs made noise up ahead, I knew it was the ‘Keith bark’;  I found him sitting on the grass outside the entrance to his home putting on a new pair of sneakers.  They were a perfect fit, and as I studied him, I may have detected a quiet understanding between us, a whispering that he is okay, don’t worry.  Did I imagine it?  Praying not.

Walk on, with or without your shoes.

Not seeing the wood for the trees

Swimming away from fear

After viewing my spiked blog traffic last week I felt empowered, encouraged (THANK YOU ALL!), excited, edified, eccentric … Excellent! Until a few days later when the doubts began to creep in – will I be able to keep this up or will I give up, yet again?  Now that ‘all eyes’ are on TheTearstealer, will she be able to perform?  Will she get to the end of the week and freeze up, or wait till the last minute and do a botched job?

The morning in question, I rose and began baking, a stress reliever, and managed to do a banana bread loaf and 114 chocolate chip cookies by 9.30.  The baker felt better, but she was receiving little messages that, like the sugary, floury dough, she was on a timer, soon to be scorched and hopefully not burnt.

I did know what I was going to write about this week but would it come together?  Would it be ‘liked’?  I had great intentions of writing fluidly during the day, even getting a head start on the following week’s blog …  yet my writing often gets relegated.  Life gets in the way – another classic excuse to add to last week’s

My first memory of swimming lessons was a scared little red-haired girl clinging to the edge of the pool and being ignored by the swimming teacher.  I was about 5, and I made the edge of the pool my friend, easing along hand over hand without attempting to venture even a few inches away into the unknown deep.

I watch swimming lessons  with a similar age group now before my adult class begins and it is a different scene from my own early memories.  There are two teachers and two parent volunteers, mostly all in the water with the kids and no child is clinging to the edge, rather they are confident and doing their thing.

My dad was a great swimmer.  He would take my sisters and I to the beach on a Sunday and soon after we got there he would venture into the sea and use his strong steady strokes to swim far away from the shore, my young eyes searching, blinking away the sun, trying not to lose sight of him.  I often did.  Then, just like that, he would be back.  The life-giving water streaming off his face and his smile telling it all.

It was not until my fifty third year that I decided that instead of admiring other people’s swimming finesse, I would do something about mine.  I had no idea what was involved in learning swimming technique.  A dear friend told me about her recent experience starting the said lessons, and I was quick to follow her lead with great anticipation.

So, my lessons started in August last year, twice a week, half hour or 45 minutes each session.  I wish my coach had videoed me the first time I set off to show her what I could do.  My proud display consisted of head up, arms flailing to the side, legs far apart and much more.  Those first months were tough, I could not master the body rotation for anything.  My naturally stiff shoulders, head, arms and bits in between were not conducive to the way a swimmer needed to swim effectively.  The pull buoy (that thing you put between your legs to stop you from kicking)  was a nightmare.  When Coach said, ‘Alright get the Pull buoy’, I would inwardly cringe but my face would tell the story of hatred for that thing.   My body rejected it in more ways than one, and fought the rotation over and over, with legs going every which way, trying their best to be part of the swimming journey even though they were only needed to do nothing.

When I learnt one new concept, then something previously perfected would go awry, and thus began a frustrating journey of normalcy in learning to swim with perfect technique.  Why couldn’t my brain just ‘get it’.  Swimming is not for the impatient.  The no-longer little, red-haired girl was gradually getting muscle memory which would serve her well in the future, but it occasionally felt like misery memory.  Giving up was not an option, and while I did my drills looking down at the brown line of the pool that I was supposed to be directly above, my mind would often be cast far back to the days when I was that little determined Debbie, learning to play tennis, learning to ride my bike, learning to sew, learning to do shorthand at 130 words per minute  …  This swim thing seemed harder than all of the above.

Then, one day I returned to the pool after a long break for eye surgery, and something was different.  A new resolve.  I had really missed my swimming, watching many freestyle videos during that break, and I was longing to see how I would be when I returned.  Would this be IT, at last?  It was.

My coach was very pleasantly shocked to see me doing the catch, the breathing, the rotation, the reach, the finish, etc, all coming together.  It was my technique breakthrough and  I have not looked back.  Yes, I still struggle with endurance and sometimes my technique goes off, but I know I have not lost it, and, like riding a bike, I will not forget.  This courageous muscle memory freestyle swimming journey has been a blast.  Butterfly next?  I can’t wait to swim on, flying high!

Deb with swimming attire