Yesterday my day concluded with a trip to the swimming pool with my family. My children, 3 and 2, are huge fans of the water, and so we have had a yearly membership to our neighborhood pool for the past 3 summers. Both my wife and I have always loved the water. We spend as much time in or on it as we can. From fishing on my parents’ pontoon boat on Lake Anna, to casual jaunts around the lake or just swimming off the dock, we try to regularly spend time there. We also schedule a few trips down to the beach every summer to fill our quota of saltwater exposure. On the off-chance we get to go on a vacation, either as a nuclear family, or as an extended one; we always seize that opportunity. But the pool suffices for weekdays and the weekends where we are at home base. It brings immeasurable happiness to all of us. Yesterday was no different.
My children aren’t yet independent swimmers, so we outfit them with life preservers and launch ourselves into the shallow end. As they steadily gain confidence, we go from jumping from the top step, to jumping off the edge of the pool. Reflecting on the progress they make in a single day is good enough to make it a list worth talking about. What’s more, is the relaxation is brings to us as a unit. Aside from my youngest being too headstrong and curious to resist the rule of no running around the pool, the water provides us an opportunity to enjoy the effect buoyancy has on our bodies in unison. The feeling you get when you immerse yourself in water, its fluidity, the comfortable transition from 88 and muggy to 78 and weightless is truly transformative. Add to that the combination of warm sun, music and games where “Daddy is a shark” and you have one of the most simplified forms of bliss that exists on the planet.
At a period in our lives where both my wife and I work, at a minimum, 50 hours a week, we feel the joy all the greater. The work at home with two toddlers is never done. There’s not yet help with the dishes or the laundry or the crayon that mysteriously jumped from the paper to the wall. There’s the dog to keep walked and the lawn to keep trimmed. There’s our room and the kids room and the home office and the playroom still to be done, even when you’ve wrapped up the dishes for the night. There’s overflow work that needs to be analyzed and mapped out for the following day. There’s groceries to buy and bills to pay. These are regular distractions that nearly every adult, parent or not, has to face on a daily basis. These tasks don’t just sap happiness; they blindfold us to it. When it all seems too much, the only natural way to manage the mountain of maintenance is to put on the blinders and wade through it. The water separates us from these tasks. We cannot accomplish any of these things while swimming. We are forced to take a break from the daily, weekly and monthly to-dos and focus solely on our presence in the water. When you think about it, it’s probably the only place people my age and younger don’t regularly strap their phone to their palm. Try as companies might to develop technology and cases to shield phones from the water, I’ve yet to meet a person to deliberately immerse their phone in the water. All of this builds a case for the sanctity of water. For the spiritual and natural connection we experience while in or beside it. We are better people in it; less focused on distraction and more present to guide our children in navigating its challenges. Less likely to feel burdened while we are buoyed by its force on us.
I’ve yet to find another commonly accessible feature that is more regularly a place of rest, relaxation, and recharging. I wonder if there might be something out there that you find more comforting or inspiring? In my ever-increasing search for locations and experiences that lend themselves regularly to happiness, I’d love to hear insights on what you might do on or near the water that benefits your happiness. I’d love to hear if there are alternative locations or experiences you commit yourselves to that are readily available. Certainly, I welcome any suggestions, recommendations, tips or advice that I or anyone else might benefit from.
Yours in the continued Pursuit of Happiness,