You’re swimming in the aqua-blue pool. Birds are singing. Sun is shining. Butterflies flit from the red throated salvia to the periwinkle blue pincushion flower. You’re at summer camp laughing with your friends. All is right with the world, until . . .
There’s something in the corner of the pool. Something that doesn’t belong. Something horrific.
It’s a floater, right there in the pool, ruining a perfectly happy moment. Everyone out of the pool!
The other day my eight-year-old came home from summer camp and told me this story about the errant turd floating in the camp’s pool.
Me: There was a floater in the pool?
Daughter: Yes and it was disgusting!
Daughter: Don’t laugh! It’s not funny. Now I can’t go in the pool ever again.
Me: Sorry, it’s just kind of funny, don’t you think? Like the cheese touch in the Wimpy Kid books. Besides, it’s like a metaphor for life.
Daughter: It’s not funny and I don’t know why you’re talking about meteors!
The next day she went back to camp and swore she wouldn’t swim in the pool. To her it was forever tainted by the piece of floating shit she’d found there the day before. Never mind that it was going to be over 100 degrees that day and without swimming she’d melt like an orange push-pop in the sun. The poop she’d experienced the day before, still fresh in her mind, threatened to ruin the rest of the summer.
When I picked her up at the end of the day she had her swimsuit on.
Me: So you did swim today?
Daughter: Yep. They put a bunch of chemicals in the pool and didn’t let us swim this morning, but we got in this afternoon.
Me: So you’re not still worried about the poop in the pool?
Daughter: Nah. But no one’s going in that corner of the pool anymore!
If only the shit life hands us were as simple to take care of. If only we could scoop the poop out, dump some chemicals on the festering problem and in a few hours we’re swimming again, happy as if it had never happened.
I’ve been swimming in a pool of poop lately – at least that’s what it feels like. Aging parents taking ill. Technology failures. Getting sick on vacation in a foreign country (where you can’t read the language and don’t know if you’ve just purchased an antihistamine or a suppository). Sometimes when it rains it rains a shit storm.
How do we get through it? What to do when the pool feels like it’s full of turds?
For me, I turn to comedy and writing. Humor can lift me up out of the funk and get me back to a place where I can see the bright side. Maybe not a bright sunny day, but at least out of the dark cave of gloom. My daughter’s floater in the pool did that for me that day. I needed it.
Then I use my imagination and I write. For instance, that floater has become epic in my mind. I imagine the “Summer of the Floater” will be passed from kid to kid and that even long after the offending piece of detritus was removed, no kid will ever go in that corner again.
In the immortal words of Jim Morrison:
What do you do when life hands you a pile of poop? How do you get through it?