I still remember the final exam for lifeguard certification during my freshman year in college. After a semester of being in the pool multiple times a week, of learning and practicing maneuvers in the water, it was time. Standing on the deck of the pool, shivering from nerves more than temperature, I heard the instructor call out, “Levitt!” as he paired me with a classmate who was 6’tall and solid muscle.
My exam was to successfully pull him out of the water.
In the middle of the Olympic-sized pool, my partner did his best to thrash, yell, and submerge himself, while I did my best to swim out, get him secured, and carry him back. He was heavy with all that muscle weight, and I was swimming as hard as I could. At one point, I clearly remember thinking, “I’m going to drown trying to get my lifeguard certification.”
Writing a book has made me take new notice of the middle.
It’s the tricky place that is neither the exciting beginning, nor the light at the end. It is the place where, if we succumb to fatigue or frustration, our endeavors might drown.
But it is also the place that slowly, eventually, recedes, if we just keep swimming. It becomes the place that we passed through.
I became a lifeguard that day.
And my manuscript is on the cusp of being turned in.