Chapter 1: Preface
His five-year-old mind was sucking up new abilities like a powerful magnetic force. That seemed right to him—how it was supposed to be. For little Peter, learning how to swim was the latest in his rapidly growing arsenal of amazing human capacities for action.
Presently, he found himself sitting on the edge of the water participating in his weekly indoor swimming class at the local YMCA. There were two other boys in the class, along with their teacher. On this particular evening, these four individuals found that they had the entire pool of water to themselves. It was night time. Around seven o’clock.
Although his teacher was only sixteen, she seemed to be far older than Peter could ever imagine being himself. She was pretty to him—with blond hair, a small nose, hazel eyes and a big wide smile. He even liked her name...Carly.
The three boys were given permission to enter the pool, and Peter soon found himself able to pick up where he had left off the previous week. He sloppily began navigating the warm liquid with the motions his body remembered being taught.
Carly blew the whistle, and he swam over to the side to join the other boys along the wall.
“Today,” she said, “I’m going to take you into the deeper end of the pool.” Peter looked outward toward the other side. It was massive in appearance. At his young age, he still had a tendency to focus on his immediate surroundings and block out that which was further away. A sense of his smallness tickled his awareness as he cast his gaze over the entirety of the room—its’ huge vaulted ceiling.
However, Peter had already begun learning the satisfaction that comes from suppressing fear, overcoming it, and completing challenges. He had learned no reason so far, to see challenge as anything but excitement; so he trusted. The boy readied his small body once again.
His teacher kicked herself back off the wall and encouraged them to swim toward her. Together they moved up along the length of the pool—staying close to the side. Eventually they stopped well into an area he had never been before. Peter clutched the white pale blue tiled railing. He saw the numbers change from three, where they had started, to eight where they now found themselves to be. He had an intuitive notion of what the numbers meant.
Between himself and the other two boys, Peter had the early lead on strongest swimmer. Therefore, Carly called him out first. When they had new skills to learn, she would work with them one at a time. Peter quickly pushed himself off the wall and grabbed onto the safety of her arms extending out before him.
“Very good,” she said. “Peter, I’m going to let you go now. Keep up the same movement that you were doing in the shallow end, and just keep swimming until you reach the other wall. I’ll stay next to you. Look at you go! Great. You’re a natural.”
He kept doing exactly what she told him. The encouragement felt intoxicating. I can do it—I can do it.
It was hard, but he struggled right along across the deep width of the pool; kicking his legs and extending his arms with power. He felt his teacher beside him, and her presence supported his movements. After a few more strokes, he saw her effectual departure back toward the other boys from the periphery of his sight. She thinks I can do the rest by myself, he thought quickly. Oh boy! He was so close to completing his goal, but he still wished he hadn’t seen her leave. And so life moves.
Little Peter continued on a bit farther; maintaining the habit of motion. Then, he suddenly felt a stab of panic grab hold of his mind. After all, his safety net had just disappeared—it was a blow he was currently struggling to contend with. He lost his stroke and swallowed a small bit of chlorinated water. For a brief moment he kept control by treading water in place, then found himself looking toward the wall ahead as his legs and arms worked madly. It suddenly didn’t seem so close at all. The distance scared him even more than losing his teacher had. His body was now questioning his capacity to complete what just a moment ago was certain success. Can I make it? He kept his arms moving, leveling out his body, and tried to start swimming forward again.
This all happened fast. His shoulders felt instantly like bricks as his legs dropped again below his torso. In a flash, his mouth was struggling to stay above the waterline. Then his head went under as well.
Suddenly Peter found that his eyes were searching the distorted world below the air. Although he didn’t give up with his effort, he felt his body continue moving downward. Quickly he became aware of the incredible danger he was in. He thought about how he had not yelled out when he had the chance. His body yearned for that opportunity now. Hadn’t dad warned me about doing that? He hadn’t made noise, he instinctively knew, because he didn’t want to disappoint his teacher. I’m good at things, he had told himself within that struggling moment. Aren’t I?
As he found himself approaching the floor of the pool, Peter tried to think of ways to be successful again—tried desperately moving his limbs in varying motions, tried moving his mind as well. But no method gave him confidence. Fear and water pressure were so strongly wrapped around his awareness that there wasn’t room for much else.
The boy tilted his head back and looked up. He saw the distant light coming from the ceiling fixture high above. Then, abruptly, he felt something inside his mind begin to crackle—on the verge of snapping. Although he had never experienced the feeling before, he intuitively knew what it meant. It’s over. This is me breaking.
Instantly, a kind of acceptance moved into the space that panic had been previously holding. I can’t believe it’s over this quickly, he thought to himself. Hadn’t it just begun?
Surprisingly, it didn’t feel bad to him. It simply was what was happening—his karma.
Then, amidst that sentiment of acceptance, he felt hands wrap around his body and jerk him upward.
He broke the surface and gasped for breath after breath of delicious and necessary air. He had forgotten how good it felt to operate the lungs.
Quickly following the shock of what had just occurred, and as he was being escorted out of the pool—he experienced feelings of jubilation consuming his entire body. The feelings were well beyond anything he had previously believed to be possible. He was only bliss.
His teacher helped him over to the bench on the side. When she wrapped a towel around him, and asked if he was alright, Peter could only nod his head. He looked up at her with a piercing gaze that vibrated with relaxed seriousness. Somehow, she knew by that look, that he was telling the truth.
Little did he know at the time, Peter was having the most spiritual moment of his life. As I was letting go, I was saved, he thought. He couldn’t believe it! Still, somehow it felt right to him. As if he had learned something that he’d never be able to define.
Afterward, he made almost no fuss regarding the incident. He didn’t even tell his father or his sister. In fact, Peter didn’t share the happenings with anyone. He moved on with his life and completely forgot about the entire incident himself!
Well, at least consciously.