Po-Ting (Duke) LinOctober 21, 2020Strength and InfluenceAwesome Moments

I waited all day long for my blissful paradise: the unfathomable, cerulean ocean.

Strolling to the counter, I registered for a two-hour swimming excursion. Then the spiritual heaven called me to enter. Before the start of my endless journey, I stretched my arms and legs, jogged, and crouched. The warm, cordial breeze embraced me as I rambled to the coast and dived into the pellucid waters. Splash!

It was eight years ago when I decided to attend my first swimming class. At first, my father attempted to persuade me to learn basketball. “All the boys in your class are practicing basketball every weekend. You are the only foolish one who has no knowledge of basketball at all. Let me tell you something: basketball is the true sport of a man,” he proudly claimed. At that time, however, I saw basketball as something “treacherous,” seeing most of my classmates getting bruises and sometimes even bone fractures after rough games. I refused. My father was, undoubtedly, enraged at my quick refusal, so I offered the idea of signing up for swimming courses, since playing in water was one of my goofy passions. Soon, I began learning swimming at my dad’s university.

I woke up early in the morning on the first day of the swimming session, anxious that I would be tardy for class. As a child who suffered from anxiety, I always pondered how others would judge or even criticize this newcomer. I was petrified with fear. Yet, when I arrived, I saw no one except a fresh-faced lifeguard sprinting to the gate with a set of rusted keys. He waved gleefully at me.

“I have not seen you before. Are you here for the summer swimming classes?” the guard asked me with a welcoming face.

I nodded sheepishly and replied, “Yes.”

As the sun embraced me at the pool, I sat on the wooden bench, waiting for my coach’s arrival. After a while, I shuffled to the changing room. I instantly thought I had made a wrongful, witless decision; it was totally dark. I moved my hands across the wall, searching for the light switch like a stupid cavefish trying to see without any eyes. Out of the blue, I heard a silvery voice, “Did you see my new student?” I turned around and saw a slender and shapely woman talking to the guard – she must be my coach.

“There he is,” said the guard. The coach greeted me. “You must be Professor Lin’s child!” she claimed, and laughed, “Professor once mentioned that you loved to play in water!” I nodded humbly without realizing my phobia had forever perished in that moment. The coach’s embracing persona had mystically thawed my deep uncountable fears and revived my confidence. Minutes later, I dived into the frigid water and got into a curious mindset as the coach went to change her swimsuit. Then a gradual vision arose in front of my sight: I saw myself becoming a professional swimmer, competing with other Olympic winners.

As time went by, I learned more styles of swimming and routinely practiced butterfly back and forth before class began. When the coach arrived, she would always provide me with profuse advice and strategies to hone my swimming skills. Once, she asked me why I wanted to attend swimming class. I wanted to tell her my grandiose desire to achieve the gold medal at the Olympics, but my self-consciousness kept that grand aspiration in my dream list. Even today, the words “Olympic swimming medal” are highlighted on my mental dream list, alerting me to persevere in swimming no matter how difficult it could be. Day by day, I practiced with strong determination and believed I was moving another small step towards my ultimate goal.

Besides working toward my huge aspiration, swimming endowed me with a sensation of liveliness and reincarnation from Mother Nature. Whenever I dived into the pool, I felt carefree as I paddled my feet through the water. Listening to the pleasant sound of the bubbles as I exhaled through my nose bolstered me to bask snugly in the fresh water. Every time I left the water, I gained something new – something that could not be evoked in words. Probably it was the rush of thoughts and imagination I unconsciously attained under the water, each time shedding my old perspectives and making me grow into a new self. Whenever I felt worn out after hours of swimming, there was always something within my mentality that guided me to persevere in reaching my daily goals. My Olympic medal dream would instantly come to mind, reminding me to not give up easily in order to pursue this ultimate dream. Thus, swimming has been my source of strength and influence since childhood.

Recalling the past, I have grasped what Buddha taught me: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” Now in the present, I question myself, my identity, and, ultimately, who I am – once I was an airy fish, splashing freely in the water; then I became a jolly shrimp, wading buoyantly; in a flash, I evolved into an elated seahorse, dashing zestfully through the seagrass; now, I have matured to a gleeful dolphin, flying high on cloud nine.

Feeling unlimited, I swim in the boundless ocean. Despite laughing at the impossibility of pursuing my aspiration to become an Olympic swimmer, I have ultimately fulfilled my grandiose dream: to be a self-determined swimmer, diving with Mother Nature.

Po-Ting (Duke) Lin is a high school junior from Taipei, Taiwan who studies at the bilingual side of Taipei Fuhsing Private School. As a student who comprehends both Mandarin and English, Duke yearns to show his Taiwanese identity through the medium of English. Besides literature, he never stops pursuing his dream of becoming a medical biologist in the future.