Parallel Swimming

There was a time, probably about 10 years ago, when we were on our yearly trip to the Cayman Islands. As with most days down there, the sun was shining beautifully, and the wind was blowing breezily. We decided to pack up a car and drive up to Rum Point for the day. On this particular trip, our oldest grandkids, Haylee and Levi, were with Mary & I.

Around mid-morning, we decided to take a snorkel-swim, out to one of the far off buoys. The weather was calm, and warm, and the water was crystal-clear blue. We rented some equipment and off we went. As amateurs go, I consider myself a very good swimmer. At that time, I was in pretty decent shape, as well. And, when I snorkel, I am largely bothered by wearing flippers. In snorkeling, I like to dive down deep and take closer looks. The flippers always feel like they are in the way. So, I forfeited mine at the dive shop.

After a brief mask preparation, we moved into the water, and set off for a long trip. For those of you who do not snorkel, it is easier to stay “afloat” with flippers. And both of the kids were wearing safety vests. On the way out, Mary and the kids had a easier time of things, being so equipped. But. By the time we reached the buoy, I was feeling the workout. We stayed out there for a few minutes, but we were not seeing much in the way of sea life. So, pretty quickly, we voted and decided to head back toward shore. Immediately, I knew this was going to be a challenge. We were swimming against the current, and against the wind, which had picked up significantly.

It was taking about 4 times the time, if not longer. Both the kids were getting tired, and need to take “rests” by holding on around our necks. About a quarter of the way back, I started to realize that I might be getting in to trouble. I was losing my steam. I took off my mask, and decided to focus completely on the swim. The choppier the water became, the more we had to pull. It was, at times, arduous.

Obviously, we reached the pier without major incident. But during that long, hard, breathless swim, I was visiting with a big bag of thoughts in my soggy head. A very large and heavy barrage of thoughts.

I didn’t want to say anything, because I didn’t want to panic the kids. On the other hand, I weighed the option of trying to call for help, hoping that someone on shore might get a tiny sound bit. Thankfully, my decision to stay quiet and pull like hell, turned out okay in the end. But when we got back, I flopped right down on the hot sand, and felt every tiny grain on my back with world of appreciation.

This memory came to me this morning, as strong and clearly as could be. There were no outside prompts to remind me. Just me. Alone at 4:22 a.m., in my office. But earlier, in the morning, I had “asked” for some help in making a decision about a couple of things.

I do that from time to time. I ask the Universe, the Angels, the God, or the air itself, for help with things. For clarity or insight. And then this story came around in my mind. A story about facing a sudden obstacle. Seeing barriers, or challenges, in the line of our progress. Choppy waters. It didn’t feel that hard on the first part of the journey, why does it feel so difficult now?

A slew of parallel questions seem to surface about a couple of things I need to act on. Or not act on. Do I swim harder? Do I call for help? Is all of this a result of my poor judgement in the first place? What happened to the wind at my back?

Parallels. I truly think the Universe is conspiring to help us, if we ask. I think the energy of our spirits can be guided this way or that. We may call it our belief in God, or our confidence in Universal Energy, or we may call it Floyd Sherganheimer, for all I know.

But the important thing is to trust enough to call it. That is where the grace begins.


“I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.”
― Richard Feynman


“Isn’t life a collection of weird quizzes with no answers to half the questions?”
― Pawan Mishra, Coinman: An Untold Conspiracy


“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”
― Robertson Davies, Tempest-Tost