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The Nonsense of Numbers

334. The Nonsense of Numbers

It happened in 1999. We raced across the YMCA pool—four year old Lissa, and sixty-six year old me. Her legs thrashed like riding a bicycle in her zeal to get to the other side first. She clung to what she called the “marshmallow stick” which enabled her to stay afloat since she was at the beginning of swimming skills.

I hung back, then would zoom forward enough to inspire her to increase her thrashing in the middle of her giggles of expectation and her panic that I might “win.” At last we reached the other side, her reaching out and touching the side wall of the pool first. I came in just a second later, my face full of disappointment, her face full of glee at winning again. Over and over we crossed the pool with her proclaiming at the other side, “I’m Number One!”

Finally as we crossed, I stayed even with her and then reached out and touched the pool wall before she did. A second later she touched the wall, our situations reversed, and I said, “I’m Number One, right?” She didn’t miss a beat, shaking her head in the negative as she said, “No—” and then looking brightly at me she said, “You’re Number Two! Are you excited?”

We laughed together.

Later that night I thought of it again—something more here for me.

Something about the competition, losing the excitement of Number Two in the discouragement of missing out on number One. Something about the comparative virus I catch from time to time which slows me down almost to snail’s pace with fears of never being able to do it “that” well. Something about the joy of the swim—the fun of the thrashing—the giggles—the expectation. Something about littleness swimming right next to much, much bigger, and littleness trusting that this is going to be great—the crossing itself is going to be an event.

As I got out of the car, saying goodbyes, throwing kisses to small ones in car seats, she held out her hand, “Here—-Here Grandma—-It’s for you!” That same excitement in her voice reached out along with her hand. I took her gift and once inside saw it clearly—a penny! A penny for Number Two. I can keep it in a special place and remember to be excited!

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