Who knew there could be a war zone in a swimming pool?
It can break out when a large number of people show up for the Aquafit class. No rules exist for positioning. Fast or slow, introverted or extroverted, new, fit, aged…or not – we’re scattered about the pool. Regulars grab their usual spot while “innocents” find a space that looks empty. The music starts, we MOVE and the rights of territory become evident. Pockets of black-belt ownership fueled by passive-aggressive silence exist just beneath the churning surface.
The brave men who join the class soon give up being gentlemen; it’s safer to act like a lady.
I confess…after a new and slower person consistently blocked my movement, I resorted to swishing the under-water into a resistance-filled stream to signal a desire to pass. Trouble is, new aquafitters don’t clue in quickly. Diplomacy needed the support of patience and a quick review of priorities.
One day I was delighted to see a very introverted friend join the class. She and I have shared Contemplative studies originally taught by my spiritual teacher, Cynthia Bourgeault. Though very “contained” she reveals her spiritual side of life whenever we have time together. She openly discusses her die-hard introversion that keeps her from connecting more often. Her depth and wisdom flow from a soul I love mining.
So, what do introverts usually do when faced with a crowd? They go to the back of the class to be away from everyone else. However, in our pool, the back two lanes are occupied by regulars who race through exercises at top speed.
I saw my introverted friend innocently walk into a landmine. We were underway, with music roaring and our enthusiastic teacher shouting us through the paces. I saw the introvert begin to compensate for a gent who has Parkinson’s. This man hangs around the back of the pool thinking he’s out of the way. The only reason he’s “given that spot” is because compassion exists for this long-term resident.
Predictably, my introverted friend ended up right beside the fastest, most extroverted person. Not being one to practice passive aggression, the extrovert turned around and snapped, “You can’t be shadowing me. You need to give me space. Please stop being so close!”
My heart sank. The introvert left the class early. I considered phoning her to make sure she planned to come back. However, letting her know I observed the incident may embarrass her more. She wasn’t at the next class.
One week later, she reappeared. I rushed up to greet her, “I saw what happened last week and I was dreading the thought that you may stop coming!”
This mature, seasoned and spiritual introvert gave me a big smile and said, “Are you kidding? I’ve spent my whole life dealing with people like that. I may be an introvert, but I’m not a wuss.”
Introverts may look like a pushover to some people. But so do bears coming out of hibernation!
As a salute to my introverted friends,
I found this video thanks to
It epitomizes the strength I saw in my friend.