My shins and knees are bruised from the rescue lessons. I looked at them as I changed for bed last night, recalling the unyielding floor of the pool. I’d expected some bruises, but not these marks-- deep purples and blues nearly black. What the hell? The sight was a catalyst, an invitation into a fatigue-induced depression already brewing. Of what use is this crazy thing I'm doing? I'd sort of felt it coming but hadn't paid attention so, when the chasm opened, I dutifully jumped down its throat like, well, a good little rabbit.
I don’t like it down there.
I only see reflections.
My greatest efforts seem pointless in a place where nothing has a purpose, even those things I love most.
I’m a fool there, soon to become an old fool, then nothing at all.
It’s a place like grief and heartbreak and deep as a well, claustrophobic as a grave.
But it’s a familiar place. I’ve been there often. And…as many times as I’ve been there, I’ve come out again. I knew this, somewhere. And the knowing was like a voice from another room. I didn’t need to understand the words to get the message.
The rescue lessons start in shallow water. Like learning a dance, the student memorizes the movements. The bruises came from my early efforts, when I struggled against the water instead of using it, trying to gain leverage against the slippery tiles. Over and over and over and then some.
Then, clean as the click of tumblers in a lock, mind and body merged. The water became a tool and with my left hand, and a wrist of a mere 5 1/2 circumference, I rotated Pete, 6 ft 5 and 300 pounds, onto his back and pulled him to the surface in one smooth movement.
He emerged with congratulations for both of us, teacher and student.
Practice makes perfect.
Writers, artists, chefs, dancers, carpenters, singers, parents, lovers, lifeguards.
The merits of lifesaving acknowledged and set aside, I know it’s the ‘click’ that drives me. The click always drove me, this time into deeper waters.
I know how to pull myself out of a depression. It can be learned. It can be taught. Last night, for a while, there seemed to be no purpose in living. This morning, I felt great pleasure in opening a new bar of scented soap in the shower.
I’ve introduced speakers and accepted awards for myself and others, but my GOH presentation at Balticon was the first time I’ve ever stood in front of an audience spoke aloud the stuff I usually write alone in the safe corner of my den. The speaking was much harder than the dancing. I’ve watched the tape several times now. It’s painful somewhat because I see mostly the flaws. I don’t like the sound of my voice and I’m not nearly as articulate and entertaining as I’d like to be. The first time I watched it I decided I should never do it again.
But what if I do, and in time, it clicks too? What a rush that would be!
I must mention the Balticon staging crew. Elaine Brennen and Marc Gordon went far beyond expectations to enable me to do the best job possible. The crew were courteous, professional and warm, the announcers congenial and well-prepared. So many things to be considered: lighting, logistics, sound, recording, timing, seating. From where I stood, the coordination seemed smooth and effortless. But I know it was not. I know that a great deal of effort went into it.
I’m fortunate to have worked with such fine people.
Alright. Enough time at the desk. It’s time to make some art. But first, we swim.