The Spark of Understanding

By Christina Pasetta

Joy sparks joy. I feel incredible happiness and pride witnessing someone “getting it”- when they finally understand and achieve what they have worked relentlessly to accomplish. Childhood is riddled with these first moments: laughing, crawling, speaking, reading, and countless more. But some firsts are momentous.

Swimming for the very first time, like walking, opens an entirely new dimension of existence.

Buoyant, one can finally traverse the (seemingly) limitless expanses before them, whether between diving-board and stairs in a backyard pool, or Lake Tahoe. Snorkeling over alien seascapes unlocks whole worlds unknown, floating above swirling sea creatures below.

The spark is fleeting but spectacular even in its subtlety. The eyes alight, taking in the gravity and intensity of what is now accessible. Almost stoic, the face resolves from jubilant to sober, knowing the new power one has over their aquatic environment. The fear once heavy in their heart and minds, weighing down each struggling stroke, is defeated- released in haste, overcome by resilience.

As a swim instructor, these moments of spark are shared quickly and quietly by only child and me.

Without the introspection practiced throughout young adulthood, children rarely register the intensity of their own emotions and triumph. And therefore my role in their success goes unregistered too. Thankless as these accomplishments often are, the spark is fulfilling in of itself. And of course parents are readily grateful on their little one’s behalf.

Adulthood has these sparks as well, but less frequent. Witnessing the joy of an adult achieving a new skill and overcoming what was, sometimes for decades, unsurmountable fear, is awe inspiring.  Where there were once countless excuses of “why not”, there is resounding appreciation. The somber flit of emotion after their elation, betrays their veneer of confidence, reminding them of years of aquatic experiences lost to trepidation and ineptitude.

There is a multitude of emotions converging and released in a single spark of understanding. I have the privilege to stoke the fire of learning within, sharing my knowledge and passion as kindling.

It is my greatest joy to give another the gift of happiness, sharing the love of the water with confidence and serene freedom. The significance of these moments is not lost on me, each spark relighting my resolve that everyone should know the infinite potential they contain.


This article is brought to you by: The Swimming Swan