The idiom sink or swim is not new. Chaucer in the 14th century and the Bard in the 16th and 17th, among others, used the phrase in their writing. Thrown in the water and left with only the choice to sink or swim, we all hope for the best.  

 Being left to sink or swim is an unavoidable part of life. I’ve felt myself in that situation with every first, from the first day of school, to the first day of every new job, to the first day in a new city… 
Once, when I was in my twenties, and without a command of the Spanish language, I found my self in the San Juan airport looking for a person unknown to me who was sent to pick me up. I had no specific information on the person. Lucky for me, the non English speaking man who took me by the arm and led me out of the airport then ushered me into an unmarked van was in fact the person who was sent to retrieve me, and not someone with other more diabolical plans. Sink or swim indeed. 

 I frequently tout independence as one of my intrinsic character traits, and I suppose that the more I state it as fact the easier it will be for me to believe it. Independence is a state of mind that doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and in truth I fight my battles against self doubt regularly. It is more of a challenge at this phase in my life than it ever was. It’s one thing to be left sink or swim on your own, but staying afloat with three hatchlings climbing all over you is a bit more difficult…the life of a single parent.

  With regards to my hatchlings, as they near the nests edge, I can unequivocally say that it is more frightening to know what my children will face out there in the world than it was for me to face it myself. All I can do is hope they know when to start flapping. 

“There are no birds in last years nest.” 

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Art work: Dr Seuss, PD Eastman


The Daily Post, January 7, 2016, Daily Prompt: Sink or Swim~Tell us about a time when you were left on your own, to fend for yourself in an overwhelming situation — on the job, at home, at school. What was the outcome?<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/sink-or-swim/”>Sink or Swim</a>

4 thoughts on “Flapping

  1. When I was in the military and I gained rank, promotion, naturally more responsibility came my way. I remember my platoon SGT. saying to me, here is your squad, you’re either going to sink or swim. I sank, but luckily, I had someone to pull me up by the collar, floated with me a while until I could swim. I guess my point is, that even though you may sink and touch bottom, you can still float up. You didn’t fail. Actually, I think you learn a whole lot more when you sink and resurface. It is tough to go at it alone, being a single parent and all, my mother was one. So I commend you.

    Liked by 1 person

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