A brave and reckless parent may throw their baby into a pool to teach it to swim (please don’t try this at home). The baby would likely be scared entering the water but would instinctively hold its breath, float, and begin crawling back through the water to the safety of its parent, swimming because it is in the water and that’s how to move in the water.
If you throw an older child or an adult, who doesn’t know how to swim, into deep water (also, please don’t try this), they would not have the presence of the baby to see what happens as they fill with fear. They would never notice that brief moment where they were floating, so they wouldn’t float. They would panic and flail and drown. Water is dangerous and unforgiving that way.
Learning to swim, is learning to trust the idea that you can float. It is embracing the buoyant nature of your body and putting it to the test. Once the trust is there, in yourself and your nature, water is no longer frightening, and swimming can be fun and relaxing. Floating in the water, you are weightless.
Fear has that tendency to drag us down. Not only do we not trust in our own nature, we doubt that it is there. In all kinds of situations in life, we doubt our ability to float. We panic and flail within our life circumstances, and we forget to take that moment to recognize that we are floating. We are floating on a planet, hurtling through vast, empty space. The planet gives us air to breath, food to eat, water to drink, and people to keep us company. When we have the presence of mind to think about the great marvel of all of that, in that moment, we are floating. We can test our buoyant nature by taking a deep breath and noticing that this improbable planet is sustaining us. Then we can start crawling through the water to the safety of our parent.