Pulling You Down: Spiritual Swimming Lessons From My Dad


When I was about 12 years old I was swimming in a gorgeous pool at a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya.

It was a lovely day the sky was blue and cloudless and the birds were chirping. I was staring up at that blue sky when all of a sudden I felt something. Turning around I saw, and felt, a lady battling in the water. She had stepped off the landing and realized that she was in the deep end. Trying to save herself from drowning she grabbed a hold of me for support. She started screaming, “help! Help! I’m drowning!”

I kept treading water. The fear set in as I realized I might be going down with this woman.

In a flash, my father dove into the pool fully clothed. My father is an amazing swimmer and was captain of the swim team in his high school years. He grabbed the woman, extracting her claws from my shoulders, and swam her to the edge of the pool. He lifted her out amid a roar of applause. While I, choking back water, slowly make my way to the side of the pool. I got out, shaking like a mutt caught in a hail storm.

When the crowd died down and the lady had left I asked my father, “Why did you save her and not me?” He said, “You were safe all along. You’re an excellent swimmer, you didn’t need the help.”

All these years later that incident still sticks in my mind. Life has a funny way of teaching you lessons.

My Dad showed me that day that I am stronger than I think. He also taught me that people in this world will try to pull you down and you have to keep your guard up. I was so busy staring at the sky and caught in the moment that I hadn’t noticed this lady as she leaped into the deep end. She was in over her head. Meanwhile, I had been in the deep end since I was a child. I had learned to tread water. I had learned how to lift myself out of the water and onto dry land.

In spiritual circles, swimming is often associated with exploring the subconscious. When I was a child, I had reoccurring dreams of  swimming in a vast pool, feeling trapped in the pool and I couldn’t get out. Over the years, I have overcome my obstacles and fears and now if I dream of the pool, I dream that I am relaxing in it, swimming contently and happily. But for many people, it’s hard to deal with our emotions. We feel trapped, we feel like we are going to drown in them! In many ways, the woman who grabbed me in the pool was having a wake up call in her own life and in turn, was awakening me. Don’t live too much in the clouds, Suki, you’re here on earth! 

That day, the day I almost drowned, my father taught me a very important lesson: that he will help keep me away from those people who are pulling me down…even though I’m strong enough to do it by myself. For that I will always thank him.

I love you Duddie, I always will.


Main feature picture, girl with balloons @ Elena Kalis.

“The best medicine that a person can have is the knowledge and experience that he can swim through every tide and change of the time. If you have the mental competency to deal with every situation that arises, then you are very happy, very healthy and a very well-balanced person.” – Yogi Bhajan

1 comment

  1. TaShana

    This is awesome! Especially considering I am a weak swimmer who has almost drowned several times in my life. Even though I lack ability, I love the water. Its one of my favorite places to be. However, I stick to the shallow end. lol

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