Childhood memories - an epiphany

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The moment I learnt to swim: a childhood epiphany of mine


Theme: Childhood Memories:

defined as epiphanies[1] / moments of living
My contribution to this theme was written as part of
Dr. Kelly’s first workshop session on ‘Writing Lives’
on July 24, 2006.

The writing was expected to cover about a page, i.e. up
to 300 words. The time within which we had to take down
our first piece of ‘creative writing’ was limited to between
20 and 25 minutes, roughly.

Here the transcript of my answer to our first assignment in class with Dr. Kelly:


A memorable event


It was a very decisive moment in my life when I found out myself how to swim
and what it feels like. I managed to do this on my own without anyone to assist
or advise me on it.


The ramifications following from this childhood experience are manifold.
Learning to swim was a kind of initiation act, in a sense a ‘rite of passage’.
I left infancy in that I had gained power over myself. Visibly, palpably in a way.
The fact that I could swim meant I was admitted a peer to the circle of adults I felt
I belonged to, yet had not achieved to be permitted to. I now was one of them,
endowed with the right to communicate with them on the same level, highly respected
in my eyes. All of a sudden I had turned from a ‘nobody’, a seeming non-entity, into
a ‘somebody’. Into someone who had performed well. Someone who had acquired a
certain technique, an indescribable sort of know-how, which makes them feel great.


The awareness of myself had been sharpened, strengthened, heightened.
I distinctly remember running back to my parents, who were enjoying a sunny
Sunday afternoon on a meadow near the fresh-water rivulet I had just emerged from
so victorious, crying out with joy as if to impart and spread the good
news of my discovery to all the world. At such emotionally charged moments one
cannot but make everyone else participate in one’s overriding delight. One wants
to ‘dance’ with the rest of the world.


On top of that archetypal experience of mine, which I was bound to have one day,
I began to esteem the power of water, the positive effect it has in that it can carry
you safely and easily. Thus water had become a close friend of mine – and it has
stayed like that ever since.


[1] An epiphany is a moment of great or sudden revelation.