I attended a mindfulness writing workshop recently through The Penn Program for Mindfulness and one of our assignments was to write an ode. I’d heard of odes, of course, but had never written one.
Not one for prompts, the first thought that popped into my head was:
“This is stupid.”
(Hmmm…I wonder how our students feel under the same circumstances??)
But although I’m not a lover of prompts, I am one to follow directions, especially when I’ve paid my own money to attend a course of my choosing. So I tried to keep an open mind and complete the assignment.
“Write about an object, any object,” nudged our instructor, Susan, in her calm, gentle voice. “Just make sure it’s an object and not a person or animal.”
“This is stupid,” I immediately thought to myself again, pen in hand, poised and ready to write in my notebook.
But then my pen began to move and an image of my beloved water-ski flooded my brain.
The end result is here.
Ode to my Water-ski
Waterski, you give me freedom. Freedom to escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life. The piles of laundry to fold, the stack of unopened mail, the dishes waiting to be washed.
You give me speed. Although I’m usually quite cautious, when I ride you, I accelerate, letting my hair fly behind me like a yellow cape. I lean away away with my arms, pushing against the force of the boat, hearing the whish, whish sound as you carve turn after turn down the lake.
Water-ski, you give me health and fitness. When I ski, I work muscles that go dormant over the winter months. No matter how many P90X videos, yoga classes or runs that I take, my first few sets back on the water always make me sore. But as the season wears on, I get stronger and stronger, finding strength that I didn’t know existed. You give that to me.
You give me courage. Ski, I remember the first tournament that I ever entered, at Ski Paradise in Mulberry, Florida. Couldn’t sleep the night before due to nerves. “It’s just an amateur tournament,” I told myself, as I still tossed and turned at 2:30 a.m. “Get over it!” I thought about not going at all but in the early morning hours, with little sleep, I grabbed you (a different model at that time), my vest and a towel. And I skied anyway. Even though I was afraid.
Ski – you give me friends. People that I’ve met over many, many years, going back to my time as a camper at Camp Tockwogh, when I first learned behind a Boston Whaler with a yellow ski belt to keep me afloat.
To the friends that I met in college, at the University of South Florida Ski Club. Later, to the colorful and unforgettable characters at McCormick’s Ski School and Cable Park, in Seffner, Florida. And more recently, to the members of the Port Indian and Dividing Creek Ski Clubs in the greater Philadelphia area..
You also give me travel. With you (and my new courage), I’ve journeyed to different places for tournaments, training and fun. Bakersfield, CA, North and South Carolina. Texas. Virginia. And my most favorite of all, Costa Rica. On these trips I’ve met people like Corey and his lovely fiancee Amelia, of Peace Love and Water-ski, and Jim and his crew at Water-ski Costa Rica.
Ski – you give me family. Now that my own children are older, they can join in too. Even just swimming at the lake is fun for them.
Ski – you give me beauty, like, sunsets, early morning fog and rainbows after a thunderstorm. You give me the sound of crickets at night and the smell of s’mores roasting on a campfire.
Ski – you make me a better person. You make me feel whole.
You give me peace.
As summer arrives, I’m reminded of the importance for teachers to rejuvenate by keeping our passions and interests alive. By doing what fills us up. By finding something(s) that provides a much needed respite from the hustle and bustle of teaching.
Water-skiing is that passion for me. What’s yours? Whether it’s jogging, yoga, or passing away the day with a good book on the beach, there’s no right or wrong answer except to make time for it.
Maybe you can even write your own ode. Ode to a beach umbrella anyone?