Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
I am learning to swim.
I did learn to swim as a child, and somehow I competed in swimming as part of Modern Pentathlon at university. But in fact I was rubbish at swimming and only managed to be on the team because I was pretty good at all the other stuff and managed to pull up my average that way, floundering my way to completion in the swim and hoping no one remembered that bit. It turned out I had never learned to swim really, despite having my badges from 10m (purple)…
…to 1500m (teal), I had only learned to get from one side of the pool to the other without drowning.
Time moves on twenty years. Children have been born. Years have been spent teaching THEM to swim (bear with the story, the punchline is great). And now they can swim unaided and our nearby town has a summer pool (outdoor) where twice a week there is a swimming club, and adults can go and be taught to swim better. And I am doing that.
It’s good to learn a new thing. The learning process itself affects your brain. Remembering how little you know, accepting to be ignorant, trying to be better. And so every Monday and Thursday I get in the pool with lean, fit, twenty-somethings and strive to do a little better than last time. To be stronger. To be suppler. To be more co-ordinated. But the thing I am having to relearn most of all is how to breathe.
When to breathe.
What part of my body to breathe with.
And the teacher tells me ‘Souffle!‘ when she wants me to breathe out.
And the teacher tells me ‘Inspire!‘ when she wants me to breathe in.
When she wants me to breathe in, to gasp for air, she tells me, ‘Inspire!‘
No one has ever had to tell me how to breathe in French before (even when I was in labour all they cared about was the souffle).
And so perhaps that is why I never realised that in French, the verb to inspire is the same as the verb to breathe.
And inspiration is the same as taking a breath.*
Le terme inspiration a principalement deux significations.
- L’inspiration est l’une des phases de la respiration consistant à absorber l’air, à l’opposé de l’expiration.
- L’inspiration désigne une affluence d’idées stimulant l’imagination et la créativité.