Archive - July, 2010

#Echo10: Day Two

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Is anyone that particularly interested in what went on at the Echo Conference yesterday? I mean, I think it’s all incredibly interesting, but that’s because I’m here. So I’ll just give a few highlights:

Jon Acuff had a great presentation about the rhythm of social media. He was funny and engaging and everything you would expect Jon to be. I hope I don’t sound like a doting grandmother when I say I was really proud of him today. I continue to be impressed with how well Jon keeps his ego in check.

And speaking of keeping your ego in check, Wednesday at lunch Marni, Sarah and I sat down at a table for lunch when a gal across the table says, “You’re katdish, right?” As I’m savoring my moment of recognition, she then says, “I found Billy Coffey through you, so thank you!” Snort! It turns out this gal’s name is Katie Moon, and we’ve been following each other on Twitter for some time now. I also met Amy Farish and two tech guys from their church. Katie insisted it really wasn’t necessary that we know their names. It is at this point where I’m beginning to feel a kindered spirit vibe going on.

I’ve done my fair share of people watching at Echo. As you might expect at a media conference, folks everywhere either have their laptops, iPads or iPhones working–staying connected to the virtual world and sharing the experience with others online. I’ve done a fair amount of this too, and have had to be very intentional about staying connected to the non-virtual world. As much as I enjoy and appreciate the online community and the connections and friendships I have made through social media, for me, there’s really no substitute for relating to people face to face.

Even though there’s been great speakers and useful information shared in the breakout sessions, I think so far, the highlight of the conference for me was sitting around a dinner table with new friends and having a good old fashioned face to face conversation. Call me old school, but that’s how I roll. Yet another reminder for me that in order to be completely engaged in the non-virtual world–to give another person the gift of your undivided attention, sometimes you have to disengage yourself from the virtual one. But you know what? That’s okay. It will still be there when you’re done.

And now I will share my favorite tweet of the day, which was way too long to retweet:

@fakemediaguy: Did she call us arrogant? Would we be huge, creative, relevant & successful if were arrogant? It’s not arrogance. We’re just cool. #echo10

An Echo Conference Update (sort of)

Yeah, I know...wrong Echo. But seriously, when else am I going to work a pic of Mr. Echo into a post?

I had a great first day at the conference. Best part? Finally meeting Marni (@marni71) and Sarah (@SarahMSalter) in person. Like Steph (@redclaydiaries) whom I met in Atlanta 2 years ago (has it been that long?), they are exactly how I expected them to be–which is to say, they are as authentic in person as they are online. (That statement should be in reverse. Oh, the times they are a-changing!)

We attended two break-out sessions and then the main session this evening given by Dan Merchant. They were all excellent. But rather than trying to give an intelligent account of what I learned today whist trying to keep my eyes open, I’ll just share a video created by Blaine Hogan that he shared with us in his session “Ideas, Hope and the Creative Process”. It pretty much blew me away. And not just the first time I saw it, but the second, third and fourth time as well.

An Act Of Confession from blaine hogan on Vimeo.

Unclenching my fist and letting go. Praying the same peace for you.

My lousy excuse for a blog post

I’m in Dallas for the Echo Conference. I’m pretty sure it’s about Church Media. Or echoes. Or both…

Anyhoo, since I was driving most of the day, I don’t really have much to offer you, so I thought I’d share some interesting facts about myself. You’re welcome.

Fact: I got the world’s worst pedicure yesterday. The nail salon was really dark and kinda seedy. I’m pretty sure that’s an eyelash painted into my big toe:

Fact: My right ear is double pierced. When I was in junior high, I thought it would be a good idea to numb my ear with ice and then poke a hole in my earlobe with a large sewing needle. For the record, I don’t recommend doing this.

Fact: I’ve had a mole on my middle finger for as long as I can remember. When I was in school, sometimes I got bored (shocking, I know), and I would pretend my hand was an anteater.

Fact: I had a little free time yesterday afternoon when I got to my hotel room.

I’ll probably be posting some riveting, informative information about stuff I observe at the Echo Conference this week. Stay tuned…

The Great Illusion

Last Sunday, I had the great pleasure of hearing one of my favorite pastors, Pete Wilson speak at a local church in Houston. His sermon was based in part on his new book Plan B: What to do when God doesn’t show up the way you thought he would, which, if it means anything, has my absolute ringing endorsement. I even had an opportunity to chat with him briefly and get him to sign my copy of his book. Come to think of it, he still has my purple pen. Dang it.

Anyhow, I’m about halfway through the book, and while there is much that is underlined and highlighted, I think the following passage convicted me more than any other:

“Every one of us must make a very important decision and this decision will have huge implications on how we process life. We must decide if we are going to put our faith in what God does or in who God is

If you place your faith in what God does, you’d better prepare yourself for frustration and disappointment because you’re never going to figure out God’s ways this side of heaven. That’s because God is God! As he told the prophet Isaiah…

Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are my ways higher than your ways

And my thoughts higher than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9)”

I MUST stop thinking of God as some sort of cosmic vending machine ready and waiting to lavish me with blessings because I’m trying to live a life obedient to Him, or withhold blessings because I’ve made a mess of things. YES, I desire to live a life obedient to Him, but not in order to receive something back. I want to live a life obedient to Him because I desire to obey the greatest commandment: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37a)

What prevents me from living my life that way? It’s something Pete calls the greatest illusion of all:

The illusion of control.

This illusion is deceptive. When things in life seem to be going smoothly, we can begin to believe that we’re actually in control of the people and circumstances around us. It is usually only when things go wrong and we try to regain our footing that we realize that we were never in control in the first place. I have a good friend who is what I would consider a control freak. I once asked her, “Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?” Her reply to me was, “What’s the difference?” I laughed at her response, but I must admit there have been times in my life when I equated what I wanted (being right) to being happy. The great irony of this predicament is that intellectually, I know that peace will only come with surrender. It’s just getting my heart there as well.

“Not my will but Yours be done.”

How about you? Do you ever fall into the illusion of control?

This post is part of the blog carnival on Ego, hosted by Bridget Chumbley. To read more, please visit her site.

Kicking and Screaming (by Billy Coffey)

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My friend passed the newspaper across the table and pointed to the article in the bottom corner. The headline read, “Georgia claims it has world’s oldest person, 130.”

“This is who I want to be.”

“You want to be an old woman?” I asked him.

“No,” he said. “Read it.”

I did. Antisa Khvichava is her name. Has a son, ten grandchildren, twelve great grandchildren, and six great, great grandchildren. And according to local authorities, she was born on July 8, 1880.

The article went on to say that a birth certificate was lost and so would not be forthcoming. Proof, it seemed, had been reduced to a few old Soviet documents and the word of local officials, neighbors, and descendants. She lives with her seventy-year-old son in the mountains near her birthplace.

I looked up at my friend, who was in the middle of a sip of his coffee. “That’s what I want,” he said. “To be that old.”


“Sure. Can you imagine being the oldest person in the world? How cool would that be? Do you have any idea how much wisdom that lady must have?”

I wasn’t sure. About any of it.

“She’s a hundred and thirty,” I said. I checked the article again. Ms. Khvichava’s fingers were cramped and deformed by age, but people said she continued to have a sharp mind. Somehow, that didn’t bring me much comfort. “You really want to live that long?”

“Absolutely,” my friend said. He picked up the sports section and thumbed through the baseball scores. “I wanna live a full life and then be dragged kicking and screaming out of this world.” He folded the paper and placed it in the middle of the table. “Don’t you?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “What’s a full life?”

He shrugged. “Wife, kids, good job, retirement, grandkids. Maybe some golf.”

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll buy that. But still…a hundred and thirty?”

“Why not? How old do you want to be when you die?”

It was a question I’d never been asked, and one I had never thought to ask myself. “I don’t know,” I said.

He looked at me and sneered. “Better start thinking about it, then,” he said. “You ain’t getting any younger.”

He was right. I wasn’t. It could be said that I was now officially pushing forty. I’d never thought about that either. And maybe it was time. We never know how long our lives will last, but most of us at some point reach a place in our lives when we believe we’re at some imaginary halfway point, that our next step will mean there’s more behind us than ahead.

I did want a full life. I had that much figured out, which was good news. And I thought I was well on my way to one. More good news.

My friend had picked up the newspaper to read the article again. “Wonder what she knows?” he asked. “Bet that’s a wise old lady.”

I was silent.

“Yep,” he said, “kicking and screaming. That’s how I want to go.”

The article didn’t include a picture, so I just formed one in my mind. And then I imagined what she’s seen over her nearly century and a half. Two revolutions. Two world wars. Hunger. Strife. Stalin. Death and destruction and hopelessness. It didn’t matter how long you last in this world, things weren’t going to get any better. You couldn’t wait on people to suddenly wake up and realize they’re a mess, because most never have and never will. That’s what I think she’d say.

I used to think about death a lot. I don’t much anymore. I think that has a lot more to do with the fact that I once thought of it as a period but now I think of it as a comma.

A waking up.

Kicking and screaming, my friend said. That’s how he wanted to go. He’d made up his mind about that. Maybe I should make up my mind about that, too.

My mind wandered to an old Native American saying I heard once. Smart people, those old Indians. They knew how to die well. And it wasn’t by kicking and screaming.

“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.”


To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at his blog What I Learned Today and follow him on twitter at @BillyCoffey

Real freedom

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We have tremendous freedom in Christ, but we just can’t seem to wrap our finite minds around it sometimes. We want bullet points and strict rules to follow. If we do this and not that, then God will bless us; we will stay out of trouble. But when we’re compelled by obligation over love, we rob ourselves of that freedom; and we’re in danger of thinking that our lives are about God blessing us instead of the other way around.

Galatians 5:1-15
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

My friend Jake Lee is starting a series on freedom. I invite you there to read the first installment, Freedom 1: Relativity. Great stuff.

Why I love hating writing

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Well dang. I wrote a post this week called Why I hate writing that was very pissy. So pissy, if fact, that I almost didn’t publish it. Mucho gracio (yes–I’m bilingual) to @jewda for reading the rough draft and giving me the thumbs up to publish it. (Apparently, he is the boss of me.) It’s summertime and I have vowed not to look at my analytics unless absolutely necessary because not as many folks read blogs in the summer. (Yeah, yeah…it’s not about numbers, I know, but still–I don’t need that crushing blow to my ego.) But based on the number of comments and retweets, if I did check them, I’m guessing that post got quite a few hits. Which just proves my theory that writers are gluttons for punishment. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be writers–Duh.

In other news, my house is still being invaded by evil lizards…

The best of me (or not) on the twitter this week:

@amysorrells Wait…I thought that was a good therapist. (in reply to amysorrells RT @noveldoctor: A good storyteller knows how to make questions look like answers and answers look like questions.)

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” ~ Stephen King

@Brian_Russell Yes. (in reply to Brian_Russell My church bothers me. Is that my fault or theirs?)

@KathleenOverby Now see — I’m down with that. (in reply to KathleenOverby @katdish @mrsmetaphor Loverby ‘roughs it’ for me-his idea is Embassy Suites.)

@KathleenOverby We are going camping next weekend. And by “camping” I mean A/C winnabago. That’s roughing it for me (in reply to KathleenOverby Do you camp?)

And….Good Morning! Going to the Walmarts to start your day is not advisable.

I’m considering writing a Part 2 to my Why I hate writing/writers post today. Because clearly, writers love the abuse.

RT @jewda”I think you need to work on being less of a fat lummox.” Arthur Spooner speaks right to my heart

@KathleenOverby Thanks. Anytime I can combine encouragement with an incessant rant, I consider that a personal victory (in reply to KathleenOverby @katdish You know how you love to encourage writers? …it’s a ‘cast your bread upon the waters’ thing… are in for a ride, girl~)

@ksluiter 96% of the time? What about the other 4%? Are you saying you don’t like me? (in reply to ksluiter @katdish me too. they are my favorite. because I relate 96% of the time.)

@ksluiter Well thank you. I love a good rant. (in reply to ksluiter @katdish that post was awesome.)

@Brian_Russell Even if they don’t deserve it, they think they do. Guess I can’t go wrong there (in reply to Brian_Russell They deserve it!)

Wow! My post is getting lots of traffic today. I should insult writers more often.

@gyoung9751 I was pretty grumpy yesterday… (in reply to gyoung9751 @katdish You toned it down? My hair caught on fire just reading it.)

@Helenatrandom Thanks. You should have seen it before I toned it down! (in reply to Helenatrandom @katdish Hi! Nice katrant today.)

@JeanneDamoff SNORT! I’m not telling you (in reply to JeanneDamoff @katdish “Why I hate writing (and writers)”//That’s not provocative, and no, I didn’t read your rant. (Am I in the 4%?)

Today is @BridgetChumbley’s birthday! Happy Birthday Bridget! (and thanks @helenatrandom for the reminder)

Why, yes…I AM up early this morning!

Great writing comes from the heart, but sometimes that heart needs to be broken before the words can come out. (via @noveldoctor)

Ahhh…..just wrote a really angry rant. And I mean pissy! Can’t decide if I want to publish it or not.

@rmaxwell142 It also has a Wii station, a coffee bar, fresh pastries, and several fish tanks. It’s the house that crooked teeth built.

Well of course my orthodontist’s office has a movie theater. Doesn’t yours?

@JeanneDamoff Snort! You sound like BC. (in reply to JeanneDamoff @katdish You’re welcome, bloggerly-but-could-be-writerly-if-she-wanted-to friend.)

@billycoffey @JeanneDamoff Thanks for the RTs my writerly friends!

@weightwhat Because of the gecko/lizard heckling (in reply to weightwhat @katdish Wait, why am I evil this time?)

@muchl8r I don’t think you actually grasp how disgusting those things are. And @weightwhat is just pure evil (in reply to muchl8r @katdish HOW ON EARTH DID I MISS THAT CONVERSATION?! I’m still laughing so hard I might pee my pants. :))

@muchl8r I am NOT a wuss!

@VariantVal I know. That’s why you love me so… (in reply to VariantVal @katdish your kindness knows no bounds)

@JCWert How could I possibly be lonely with all the voices in my head to keep me company?

@VariantVal On second thought. Don’t talk to me. (in reply to VariantVal @katdish how your lizards doing?)

Talk to me…

I hate spam comments. Especially ones disguised as real. “Great site! Lots of useful info here!” Please-you obviously haven’t read my blog.

@marni71 Great minds… (in reply to marni71 Snort! That’s what I was thinking.)

@SBeeCreations Chandlering? What’s that? Like Chandler Bing? (in reply to @SBeeCreations @marni71 Chandlering today! & Soaping! & labeling! & cleaning! Got into a B&M & they want 3 of everything!)

Walking for exercise is impossible with @BuddyLovetheDog. He has to stop and phantom pee on everything.

Despite what many folks will try to tell you, there are few shortcuts in life.

Okay tweetdeck…you’re dead to me.

Hey…is this thing on?

@weightwhat True dat. (in reply to weightwhat @katdish Well, why else would one go to Walmart?)

Sigh…Why do I always get behind people at Walmart who are stocking up for the apocalypse?

@Helenatrandom You hate me, don’t you? (in reply to Helenatrandom @VariantVal She was considering serving them with hot sauce, but I’m trying to talk her out of it. #worchestershiresauce @katdish)

@VariantVal I don’t know. I’ve considered a blow torch, but seeing as though they hang out in the eaves of my house, might not be prudent (in reply to VariantVal @katdish don’t they make lizard repellant? can you throw mothballs around to keep them out.. mothballs seem to work for everything)

@salamicat It’s a gecko. Pretty sure they come straight from the bowels of hell.

@Helenatrandom STOP!!! VURP!!! (in reply to Helenatrandom @katdish Worchestershire Sauce, NOT hot sauce…)

@VariantVal Yes. Then the cat kills them, the dog tries to eat them and vomits them up. It’s like a very disgusting Wild Kingdom. (in reply to VariantVal @katdish Oh my, you’re being invaded by Geiko lizards)

Gaaa! Another one. Welcome to my nightmare!

RT @billycoffey: Home is not necessarily where you live, but where you are understood.

“Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.” ~ T S Elliot

@jewda4 Ninjas…they’re everywhere. (in reply to jewda4 I just lost a bag of animal crackers. I was eating some, took a break to go on stage and sound check, and I don’t remember where i put them.)

Why I hate writing, Part 2

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From a very early age, both of my children have uttered the phrase “It’s not fair!” on numerous occasions. They didn’t overhear it from their parents; it didn’t have to be taught to them. I think the concept of fairness and unfairness is ingrained in each of us. We cry out for justice when we perceive injustice. Unless of course we perceive the scales tend to tip in our favor, then maybe it’s not so big a deal.

This is another reason I hate writing–or more specifically–the business of writing and publishing. Because it’s not fair. Don’t believe me? Peruse the New York Times Best Seller List and note how many books on that list are written by or about celebrities, or go to the local bookstore and try NOT to find a vampire romance novel. Meanwhile, your literary masterpiece sits on the corner of your desk held together by the giant binder clip of despair.

But here’s the thing: it can’t possibly be fair. Because what constitutes good writing, or rather, good reading is so completely subjective, and the publishing business is–well–a business.

In the book Harry Potter and Philosophy, William Irwin states:

“(J.K.) Rowling is not Shakesphere, nor has she ever claimed to be. But as Mark Twain once said of his own books, they’re less wine than water, before adding this, ‘Everyone drinks water’…Something’s popularity is decisive evidence of neither its truth nor falsehood, neither its value or worthlessness.”

So what’s a writer with dreams of publication and at least a small amount of notoriety to do against seemingly insurmountable odds? Most of you who have been at this for any amount of time already know what I’m about to tell you, and I’m no expert, but I play one on the Internets. So I’ll offer you this unsolicited advice (I know–you’re welcome):

  1. Man up or put your big girl panties on. (Or both–I’m not here to judge you.) Be ready for the long haul. It’s been my observation that behind every overnight success story you’ll find a long path of blood, sweat, tears and rejection letters.
  2. Study your craft. Read books about writing, plot and structure and (please!) basic grammar and sentence structure. You may be good, but you can always be better, and “the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” (Stephen King)
  3. Devote serious, uninterrupted time to writing. Even if what you’re writing is utter crap, keep writing. No one else has to see it, but if you’re really committed to writing, you can’t just write when you feel like it. If you don’t take this seriously no one else will either.
  4. Live a better story. Then write a better story.
  5. Don’t quit your day job just yet.
  6. If you think a life of a writer is too hard; that you’ll never make it, quit. Do something else.
  7. If you found yourself nodding your head while reading the previous point and feeling a huge weight being removed from your shoulders, you’re probably not cut out to be a professional writer. (See previous point.)

And remember this bit of advice from the Great One:

“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness or even despair–the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind or heart. You can come to the act with your fist clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.

I’m not asking you to come reverently or unquestioningly; I’m not asking you to be politically correct or cast aside your sense of humor (please God you have one). This isn’t a popularity contest, it’s not the moral Olympics, and it’s not church. But it’s writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can’t or won’t, it’s time for you to close the book and do something else.

Wash the car, maybe.”

~Stephen King, On Writing

Why I hate writing

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Do you know what I was going to call this post?

Why I hate writers.

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I’m in a really pissy mood right now and I’m not sure why. Two years ago, I would have done what any normal person would do. I would yell at my kids or eat a half gallon of Blue Bell ice cream, or turn on the Wii and box a few rounds. Heck, I may have done all of these things simultaneously.

But I’m not normal anymore.

I’m a writer.

I can sit here and say, “Well, I’m not really comfortable calling myself a writer. After all, I have no plans to ever have anything I write published into a book. Clearly, I’m not invested enough into the craft to call myself a writer, yada, yada.” (Unless, of course some publishing type happens to be reading this and wants to offer me an obscene amount of money to write my memoir. Please validate my existence!)

Whatever. Here I sit banging away at the keyboard, searching the depths of my soul as to why it is I’m so angry. I’m actually sitting here wondering if I should take a spiritual approach to writing about my anger, or if I should just go with my standard “katrant”. This is why I hate writing. Because everything becomes potential material. I’m always writing. Whether it’s in a notebook, on the computer or in my head. It won’t stop! Why won’t it stop?

Back to my original statement:

Why I hate writers.

Good writers and bad writers. All of you. I blame you all.

Good writers: I blame you because when I read your work I feel inferior. You force me to study the craft so that my writing can be better. This is an investment in time and energy. I don’t feel like investing right now. I just want to do what I feel like doing. But you make me look bad if I do that. Thanks for nothing.

Bad writers: I blame you because when I read your self indulgent, flowery-worded diatribes it gives me a false sense of confidence. You make me think I’m actually better than I am with your badness. Truth is, I still suck, just not as much as you do.


Not really. I don’t hate writers. I love writers – all writers. I love writing – good and bad. All writing encourages me to write better. It’s just so darned frustrating sometimes.

I think I’ll eat some ice cream…

Carry on…

EDITOR’S NOTE: It occurred to me after writing this post that upon reading it, approximately 96% of people reading who consider themselves writers would wonder (if even for the briefest period of time) if I was referring to them when I mentioned “bad writers”. That’s another thing I hate about writing. It tends to do a number on your self esteem. Not to worry. I’m actually NOT talking about 96% of you.

And now you’re wondering if you’re in the 4%.

See what I mean?

Going deep (by Kirsten Nilsen)

I am very pleased to introduce today’s guest blogger. For those of you who haven’t already happened upon her blog, Nilsen Life, I would highly recommend it. Many of the folks I’ve asked to guest post for me have been writing most of their lives. Kirsten, like me, has only recently discovered a love of writing. But you’d never know it by reading her work.

She’s good, y’all:

Kirsten Nilsen has long called herself a traveller, an observer, even a thinker but only recently figured out that she could also call herself a writer. She looks for meaning in the mundane, sometimes uses gratuitously big words and loves a good Wayne’s World quote. She loves a good joke, a powerful image, a precise phrase, and regularly finds examples of all of these in the amazing & often overwhelming world that is the Interweb. She fell into blogging by accident, and has been working her way backwards ever since.

The water simmers in the summer heat, so when you wade in, the first few steps through the murky pond water feel uncomfortably swamp-like. But just as you reach the point where your feet lift off the muddy bottom, you begin to feel the delicious swirls of cool dark water, mixing with the squelching mud. You strike out for the middle – alternating strong crawl strokes with sneaky head-just-above water breast stroke – until you reach the very center.

Far away you see your grandfather squinting out at you, wondering if he should call you back, but somehow aware that his twelve year old granddaughter knows her limits. The powerlines hum and crackle overhead, and the heat shimmers over the treeline of the mountains around you.

Once you are as far as possible from the shore, the trick is to jackknife your body and dive straight for the bottom – you know you can’t reach it, but know also that diving down…..down…..down you’ll finally reach the icy currents at the bottom of the pond.

In the water, your senses are assaulted by the sting of almost-freezing temperatures on your toes, even whilst you look up and see the rays of hot July sun pierce the green water. It feels like hours, spent diving and floating, floating and diving. Snatches of conversation float out over the water – someone asks the grandfather if he isn’t worried, worried about the girl floating in the water all the long hot afternoon. No, he laughs. No – that girl knows exactly where she is.

At twelve you haven’t grasped the the symbolism of suspending yourself in the depths. At twelve you can’t articulate the magnetic draw of the water – the elemental appeal of submersion. But what you do know at twelve is that you have struck out on your own – you’ve been given the freedom to go to the depths, with unwavering confidence in your ability to return to the surface.

Perhaps an indulgent grandfather had no way of knowing the profound memory he created that day. But never once has that swimmer entered the water without remembering the day she was allowed to go deep.


To read more from Kirsten Nilsen, visit her at her blog Nilsen Life and follow her on twitter at @NilsenLife

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