Dec. 9: Beginner

Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.
― Meister Eckhart

My favorite students to teach, those summer
mornings at the high school pool, were
the Beginners. A couple levels up from

Non-Swimmers, still tentative, some reluctant
to put their faces in the water. They taught me
that insisting they do it my way did not work,

that for some, just blowing bubbles on
the crystalline blue surface was a brave act,
like trusting the water to hold them when

they stretched out on their backs, little chests
puffed up toward the sun, my hand barely
between their shoulder blades for reassurance.

I’d whisper in their ears, half above the surface,
You’re floating! and they’d grin and start to giggle,
flailing and sputtering as I caught them.

Try again, I’d say. Take a deep breath. I’ve got you.
And now I wonder where such insight bubbled
up in a 16-year-old girl, herself a beginner,

barely launched in life, in love. Or was I giving
myself advice I’d later need for the journey,
for the beginnings that would inevitably arrive

unbidden, requiring a starting over, a call to
embark again, always the neophyte, the perpetual
apprentice with so much to learn?

About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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8 Responses to Dec. 9: Beginner

  1. shaunasmith says:

    Yes! Sweet, wise 16 year old and her/your message beautifully captured! Thank you. 🙏Warmly,

    ShaunaSent from my iPhone


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  2. dorothyhaag says:

    Love everything you write, but for some reason, this was especially touching. Very profound.

    Love, Mom


    • janishaag says:

      Thanks, Ma. All thanks to you, those crazy early swimming lessons for your oldest daughter, uncountable trips to the pool to drop us off and pick us up, the synchronized refereeing, and encouraging us to become swimming instructors/lifeguards/coaches! Thank you!

  3. Dick Tracy says:

    I remember my wife, Judy, walking our boys to the Arden Park pool, bribing them with a toy “treat” so they’d learn to swim. A labor

  4. Cindy Domasky says:

    Try again, I’d say. Take a deep breath. I’ve got you.

    Thanks Jan. ?? Your daily meditations are so wonderful. (poetry!)

    Think I might be able to write Monday night with you. Still iffy. But I’m hopeful.


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