Friday, August 16, 2013

Down in the water

I swam. 2 weeks later than I thought. At 6 weeks after surgery, it's finally the right time. I could have done it earlier but it was either laziness that gripped me and held me to bed or the damned weather that prevented me from going every time I decided it was good to go.

I figured out long ago that swimming was good for my soul. But today, I had another thing click. It's the weightlessness that I feel when I glide through the water. I am still not at full strength but I do feel fit. I wasn't tired but my wound is still healing and I don't want to aggravate it unnecessarily by overexerting. Nevertheless, I pushed for 1k and still managed it well under an hour. If I had to walk that distance, I'd be hurting. Although it's too soon to tell I don't think I'm going to feel a lot of pain from today's 1k.

The other day I met an overweight boy of 13. He's the child of a family friend. I've seen him over the years and each year he has grown. His brother before him was rotund as well but lost all his weight in his late teens and is looking fit now. Everyone who is around him, save his family, is quick to make various comments about his size or weight. And each time, I can see that cringe inside him. He smiles politely and utters nothing each time but I can tell it hurts him. And each time, he's wishing that whoever is talking would just shut up or go away.

I've asked my family and friends who are around him to refrain from making comments about his appearance, but some have just got defensive and insisted that they were just saying he is "big". Isn't that bad enough? Said enough times, and often enough, it would kill any self esteem he has left.

This is the sort of experience you will suffer if you are overweight in Malaysia. People often don't say the things they are supposed to say, but say the things that they aren't supposed to. I've suffered it enough to realise that the first thing people are going to say to you is, "Wow, you've put on weight" or something to the effect. Or worse, "you're so big, not like your [insert relative or parent]". And yet when there are real and important concerns about someone's well-being, most are keen to say, "I don't want to ask or make any comments. It's none of my business." If you are Malaysian, or indeed Singaporean, you will know exactly what I'm talking about.

So I got to thinking about being weightless while I was swimming. It's got to do with being carefree and burdenless I think. It's being naive and vulnerable, even careless. It's returning to a childlike state perhaps? It's different from me being able to think through stuff while swimming.

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A day later after I wrote the above, I'm feeling great. Having swum 500m today using both upper and lower body strength I'm feeling a little confident if not cocky. I'm going to make the best of whatever time I have left of the summer. School has started back home in the States for Zoe but she's still here. I've got lots of stuff to do before I leave here... I'm dreading leaving but I also look forward to being back in the swing of things in my other home. Sigh!!

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