For the past one year, the whole world has been grappling with the global pandemic of the Covid-19. All of us from all over the planet are in this together, united in our suffering, struggle and survival. With the World Happiness Day, March 20, just behind us, the happiness of seeing a world rid of the deadly coronavirus seems a distant dream right now.
“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely actors…” said the great Shakespeare. Well! I beg or rather dare (?) to differ because that would still be quite easy living life, playing your destined role and exiting. I would rather say this world is a huge swimming pool and all the people have to be much more than great swimmers. This insight that came to me some thirteen years ago when I used to take my kids to learn swimming, has resurfaced in my mind again and again, every time there has been a tough situation in life. And now when the entire humanity is struggling for survival against the common invisible enemy -coronavirus- I feel my comparison all the more validated.
Though I never learnt swimming (and still don’t know), when I took the children for swimming classes, sat there beside the pool watching them attentively and with a lot of awe when they could actually swim even a bit, there were the coach’s instructions to the learners that were falling on my ears and involuntarily being absorbed by my creatively inclined mind. By the time their summer vacation swimming classes got over, so did my comparison of the art of swimming with the science of living.
The technique to survive of course is the skill, ability and proficiency in being able to breathe underwater--in this case the ‘water of life’! Only there’s one dilemma. While learning swimming, the coach emphasises the technique of breathing in when your head is above the water and breathing out, from your mouth, when it is underwater. In the case of life, there is no way you can have your “head” out of “water” to breathe in. You’re always underwater and so you’ll always need to breathe out from your mouth. No wonder we all feel out of breath after crossing only a fraction of the ‘world pool’!
Moreover, if you don’t know swimming, you could at least sit outside the pool, observe the beginners, listen to the coach and learn quite a bit about the theoretical aspects and practical constraints and difficulties of the sport. Then equipped with knowledge of all these facets, you could jump into the water to actually begin learning swimming. But in life, this is not possible. Furthermore, in the pool of the world, you don’t even have the option of starting in the shallow and then moving to the deep waters, graduating from the small “learners’ pool” to the big, real and proper pool. You’re thrown into the actual, deep waters straightaway without any instructions and theory leave alone an expert coach to teach you the art and the technique.
Talking of similarities, just like the swimming coach emphasising “making bubbles” underwater, in life too, one has to make bubbles, in fact, continue making bubbles all throughout life. I’d compare this with making an impact, making a mark, making a splash or getting noticed or being visible. Another instruction the instructor keeps hurling at the learners is “keep kicking”. Well, one could equate that to keep working hard diligently and keep trying, despite failures. Because the only way to keep swimming is to keep making bubbles underwater and keep kicking.
So our motto in the current Covid-19 situation should be to keep making an impact in whatever little way we can, in our own circle of influence, be rest assured the ripples of which will spread around near & far in concentric circles. Additionally, keep up the endeavour to defeat the virus entirely by actions that enhance immunity and follow physical distancing & hygiene norms. Well, because that’s the only way to go on. But remember, the sooner you learn to swim in this ‘world pool’, the better.
Happy and successful swimming……I mean living!!
Manisha is an international award winning screenwriter & filmmaker, founder of an International Happiness Film Festival & Founder-MD, LOGIHQ (HAPPINESS start-up)