There’s two moments from today that I feel like I want to reflect on. The first one I want to relate is the one that happened later in the day. The kids finish swimming lessons around noon so we sometimes will get pizza afterwards. It made sense today because my wife was sleeping off a night shift and we also wanted to get some Mother’s Day stuff together.
So we ended up at a Pizza Pizza on Queen St. near Dovercourt and as we sat down to eat our pizza CP24 was playing on the TV above us which is always interesting with the kids because you never know what is going to come on. In case you don’t know, CP24 is a 24 hour news station in Toronto that is often played on the televisions of offices and pizza restaurants around the city.
So, as we were sitting there they were playing clips from a commencement address that Donald Trump gave at Liberty University today. It made me so mad. I was actually pushed to the point of talking back to the television in the presence of my kids. I wasn’t shouting or shaking my fist, but I was certainly shaking my head. I called him a clown.
I think there’s something about Trump going in front of a group of people and giving them advice on how to be successful in this world after the week he’s had spouting off egregious lies lacking any sense of decorum or wisdom that gets me fired up. He’s become a clown. On top of that, that he’s being invited to speak at an evangelical University and Jerry Falwell Jr. is trumpeting his praises as a friend of American Christians, it makes me feel sick. How anyone can buy that is just beyond me. They’re clearly getting their news from a different source than I am.
I shouldn’t let it bother me. It really has nothing to do with me. I just get irked when people lie and behave badly without remorse. It really gets under my skin. It was the same thing with Rob Ford when he was the mayor of Toronto. That kind of flagrant lying and deception just makes me angry.
So let’s go back a ways to my youngest daughter’s swimming lesson. I love watching the part of their class where they get out of the pool and they line up to learn how to jump into the pool.
My daughter is six and she’s in level two so it’s a pretty rudimentary level. Her lesson consists of them taking turns working on floats and kicks with the teacher for the most part and it seems to be quite enjoyable for them. But then there’s that part of the class where they all get out and they have to jump into the water one by one into the waiting arms of their teacher.
It’s funny because there’s always one kid who will jump in on his own. He has no fear. He’s already figured it out. He’ll jump into the water when no one’s around. He’s the one flailing around in the pool without any qualms – dunking his head and splashing around. But the other kids have not reached that level of comfort yet. I love to watch them standing there, poised on the edge of the pool willing themselves to leap out into the water. There’s two kids in particular who seem to have the most difficulty – my daughter being one of them. They stand there and they wait, and you can tell that there’s a lot going on in their minds, but whatever it is, they have a hard time bringing themselves to jump into the water.
I wonder what it is that’s going on up there. I don’t imagine that it’s a rational decision-making process that’s going on. I don’t think that they’re logically reasoning out the risks of jumping into the pool based on how much they trust the teacher and how well they feel they can swim. I don’t think it’s that kind of struggle they’re going through.
I wonder if they are actually considering that they really have nothing to fear. Are they actually talking themselves through the facts of the situation – that they are only jumping into the shallow end – the part of the pool where they can touch and where they spend most of their time happily jumping and splashing around? Maybe they are and maybe they’re not.
I think that what is going on is a struggle against their own instinctive response to the situation. Their minds and their bodies are telling them very clearly that jumping into this pool is a very bad idea. Every ounce of their being is telling them that this is not something that they should be doing. They can feel it so strongly, and yet everyone around them is telling them to do it. Everyone around them is encouraging them to just jump and to not be afraid. But for themselves, they feel something very different.
They are going through a process of ignoring their instinct – their basic sense of what should be done and making a choice based on reason or suggestion. It’s remarkable. I’m not sure how often this has happened in their lives. I’m not sure that my daughter goes through this very much. I know that she is a very instinctive person and also a person who is very confident and certain of her own grasp of a situation. It’s very counter to who she is to jump into that pool.
But she did it. She and that other boy managed to make the jump. It took a lot of coaxing and a lot of work, but they did it. It wasn’t elegant or noble. It looks kind of like they’re doing they’re best to try and stay out of the water as long as possible until they’ve got a hold of the teacher. They crouch down and lean forward with their arms out trying to connect with their teachers waiting arms and then all of a sudden they’ve gone past the centre of gravity and they’re falling, and they’re into the pool…but they’re connected. The teacher is holding them and they don’t even go under. There is a big splash and it is over.
I don’t think the other parents get into it as much as I do. I was even getting excited by the other boy whose name I don’t even know. I had to restrain myself not to cheer when he made the leap. I certainly celebrated when my own daughter made it. I could have celebrated more – I didn’t want to make a scene. It’s just such an amazing process – to consciously ignore your own inner signals because of what you’re being encouraged to do and because of how you yourself can reason out that this actually might be an okay thing to do.
It’s such a contrast to what is going on with the corrupt and the deceitful. What has gone wrong with the process? I suppose the ones encouraging the leaps are not to be trusted. I suppose the one who is doing the leaping has lost the ability to see clearly or to care how this leap might impact others. Maybe their own instincts were never strong enough in the first place.
I don’t know. I suppose it’s a dangerous process – teaching these kids to jump in a pool when everything in them is telling them not to. I suppose you run the risk of raising people who lose touch with their instincts and with their own ability to make decisions.
But on the other hand you also get people who learn that it’s fun to jump in a pool – that there are people that can be trusted to catch them and to give them good advice. We don’t have to rely on our own instincts alone. I do think it’s worth the risk. I really do. It’s just really important to have the right person there in the pool telling you when to jump and promising to catch you.