Reliance on Love

A little boy was playing happily in the shallow end of a swimming pool, when his father took him in his arms and carried him into deeper water. As he went, his father explained to the boy that he was going to teach him to float, and perhaps to paddle on his back. The child seemed pleased with this, but the moment he felt himself afloat and without the grasp of a firm and familiar object, he grew rigid and consequently began to sink. Clutching frantically at his father, he cried to go back to the shallower water. His fright made him doubtful of his father's reassurances and instructions. But the latter patiently assured him that he would keep his arms beneath him, ready to catch him if need be. "Just lie easy, son," he directed. In the course of a few minutes the boy had become calm, and was lying easily. Soon after he was moving his arms and propelling himself across the pool.

To most of us the boy's experience will recall performances of our own when we were acquiring some new skill, learning some new art. We may have memories of a stroke in our game that lost its power, a tone in singing that was squeezed into thinness, because we stiffened. There had been no ease and joy in the doing, no power and grace in the thing done. But why, when the instructor encouraged us, were we, perhaps, unreasonable in our tenseness? There must have been some manifestation of a fearful though about self—fear of being thought awkward, or stupid, or presumptuous; fear of being a failure, of being hurt, or even of losing our lives. And we became so occupied with these thoughts that we were unresponsive to the instructions that would guide us to a joyful and successful accomplishment.

Shutting Out Error
July 4, 1931

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