I never wore them when learning to swim (I don't think), floaties, that is. My memory of learning to swim is that of sinking to the bottom of a very deep pool, then returning to the surface. Apparently this was a long and trusted method of teaching children to swim in my family's past (I note, however, that this tradition ended with me--I don't believe my younger brother was subjected to this, hmm...). However, I grew up to be a water lover, and someone, who as a small person liked to jump off of tall things into water. One summer, while staying with my grandparents and my cousins at a lake house, I decided I would walk up to the top of the cliff where the older kids were jumping into the water, "just to see" I promised my grandparents. At some point I made the decision that it didn't look like something I couldn't do too, so went ahead and jumped. My grandfather (who was waiting in a boat below), although he lived many many years beyond that day, was convinced of two things: 1) I almost killed him, and 2) I would probably go ahead and do whatever I wanted and be fine for the rest of my life. I wish he was here to remind me of that now.
All of this to say, that "floaties" are simply the words and actions of the people around you that keep you from sinking. We all need them sometimes. At others, we will jump from cliffs and laugh and scream. I do think, now that I'm a semi-grown up, that it's not as embarrassing as I thought to let people know that you need a little boost to return to the surface. We are all so intent on letting people see what we want them too, and quickly plucking out the pieces of ourselves we don't want them to see.
Tonight at yoga, the word was "cultivation"--I was in no mood to consider what exactly I'm cultivating right now, but was intrigued by this idea that we are very conscious of our distinctions between "good" and "bad" parts of ourselves that we cultivate, and those that we choose to show the world. We all might have a bit more compassion for one another and bit less neurosis if we were able to say, "You know what? I have crazy bed head in the morning too." OR "Sometimes I'm not so sure I'm going in the right direction. I might look like I have it all together as I stubbornly persist, but I'm asking a lot of questions..." I know I'd feel better. My hair would still look like it had been out all night wrestling with jungle animals when I woke up, but...I'd feel better.
I am reminded of a morning I spent in yoga class when an absolutely stunning (and very flexible) woman I had secretly envied for some time, cried as she shared her reason for loving yoga so much-- that it was the first time she had actually been allowed to enjoy moving and being in her own body--years as a professional dancer had pretty much beaten that joy out of her. This simple honesty reminded me, and it's so ridiculous to admit that I forget this, that we all have our "shit" we're working through. And my inability to do full wheel? Well, that's pretty small potatoes in the big scheme of things.
Pema Chodron asks, "Right now, can you make an unconditional relationship with yourself? Just at the height you are, the weight you are, with the intelligence that you have, and your current burden of pain? Can you enter into an unconditional relationship with that?"
I always thought I had a pretty darn good relationship with myself, but I'm not sure it's ever been unconditional. And it's certainly not unconditional when I feel like I need something beyond myself to buoy me up. How ridiculous is that? All sorts of judgment leaps to mind when I don't think I've got my game on, or I'm not 100%. There's the work, I'm thinking. Feeling pretty damn good about it all whether you have the hubris and confidence to defy all odds, and when deep down you would rather curl up in a small ball and leave the world for a bit.
Even now, as I write these thoughts, I think, wow, I'm tired, here's a disclaimer for why this isn't as eloquent as I wish. And I realize that sometimes that's just how it goes. I consider plucking the words from the page and scrapping these thoughts for tonight. However, I'll share it, some of it may make sense as I want it to. Some may not. I'll continue to try and develop my unconditional relationship with myself, and what I share with the people in my world.