If you’ve ever seen a heat of high level male swimmers racing a sprint freestyle event, you’ve seen the wave they pull behind them. It’s impressive to see the wake caused by a strong, powerful body propelling itself efficiently through the water. Then they come to the wall.
As the swimmers slow slightly to initiate the turn, their wake catches up with them. As they push off, what was behind them is now in front of them, a wave of churning turbulence with the potential to ruin their race. Young swimmers often push off right at the surface, and take that wave in the face. They must learn through practice to push off deep enough to avoid their own wave, and slide through the still water.
We create turbulence as we move through our lives as well, stirring up the water with our selves, our habits, our insecurities. As long as we are moving forward, this turbulence is largely unnoticed by us; it is only when we slow down, when there is a challenge facing us, that our own mess catches up with us. We flounder in the churned up water we have created, making the challenge that much more difficult.
Perhaps instead we could get out of our own wake. We could approach our challenge (wall) with determination, acknowledging that our issues and inner demons (turbulent wave) is right with us, and push away from the problem (wall), aiming for the calm place (still water), where we can once again move forward efficiently.
It is important that we not deny that the wake exists, otherwise we will run into it over and over. Rather, we should accept that it’s there, see it for what it is, and take steps to move past it.