Running Free

One day in the locker room, after a particularly rigorous aquafit class, my friend and I were chatting with one of the other participants. The woman was in her 80’s and enjoyed her weekly deep-water aquafit. When doing aquafit in the deep end, participants wear a flotation device around their waists to keep them afloat while they do the exercises under the water.

I love aquafit for many reasons, but it was inspiring for me to hear this woman’s story. She told us how she used to love running when she was younger, something that she was no longer able to do on land because of various physical limitations. Supported by the water (and the flotation device) she could run! Her eyes lit up as she described the feeling of the movements, the ease with which her body could move, and the fluidity of her legs churning underwater. She was able to recreate the sensation of running in the water.

It resonated with me strongly as I often feel seal-like going through my day-to-day activities. Awkward and ungainly on land, a graceless hump moving through space (ok, slight exaggeration). But in the water, I can swirl and glide, moving unimpeded and freely. The water supports me, enabling me to move in new and wonderful ways. My arms become powerful pinwheels propelling me through the water. I feel the strength of my legs powering me ahead. Or I can float peacefully, drifting quietly with no particular direction in mind.

Technically this is a sea lion and not a seal, but the sentiment is the same.

I was inspired by this octogenarian’s spirit and creativity.  Her resilience and adaptability to recreate the sensations she craved and the things she loved.

It’s an amazing thing when we allow ourselves to run free of our own limitations and constraints. To move past the pressures and restrictions we so often place on ourselves. And if we let our imaginations go with it, we can be transformed, maybe even into one of these magical, graceful aquatic animals, at least for a brief period of time.

Feeding dolphins. They swim fast when they’re hungry.

Sea turtle resting.

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