Happy Hour

Spring 2011 #3

Normal begins at the toes.  Gradually, at a pace that would irritate a snail, normalcy spreads up through the ankles, calves and knees; manifesting at the same time in the fingertips, palms and forearms.  There is a moment of trepidation as one’s belly-button becomes ever-so-slowly normal; but the feeling of normalness invading the arms and chest is delicious! At about this point, when one is normal up to one’s neck, the whole fragile illusion can easily be shattered by the whirring-grind of the mechanical chair as it creeps downward into the Watering Hole.  But, a second later and one is blissfully weightless, arms and legs in perfect coordination, adrift in Happy Hour!

Filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.

Hydrotherapy is the uncontested highpoint of the week.  I’ve been swimming twice every week for just about a year now.  ‘Swimming’, on reflection, is a rather grand description for what I do.  Time was when I swam a mile every Wednesday, and a kilometre on Mondays and Fridays.  These days I float on Mondays, and I float again on Fridays. I am a highly accomplished floater.  A proficianado of buoyancy, with a touch of physiotherapy thrown in.  The water is heated to a delectable 34 degrees Celsius and the entire pool is reserved for me alone. Heaven has briefly come on earth!

Nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’
because the kingdom of God is among you.

This addictive experience of normal physical function beckons me from home; rain, hail or shine.  I have even developed an exciting array of storm proof accessories so that nothing will prevent me from swimming. The pool is a must! Until very recently this excursion was a literal expedition, requiring three busses in each direction, and a bare minimum of five hours on the road.  The trip was becoming so demanding, in fact, that I had almost forsaken the heavenly plunge. Shudder the thought! But that was all before an Angelic Visitation form a social worker who made a home call to Paradise, and discovered another hydrotherapy pool just minutes from my door. 

From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters.
The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease they had.

And not minutes from Paradise by bus – this new pool is just 12 minutes downhill roll for Bugger  and I.  You can actually see the pool from the end of our street. It’s absolutely, utterly, perfect.

Inevitably the illusion starts to crumble; helped in no small part by the disquieting sight of a nursing attendant quietly reading a book by the pool’s edge, without whose help I would neither enter nor exit the pool.  I have been studiously ignoring her presence for the last half an hour, and the fact that she will all-too-soon be assisting in a most undignified showering procedure rather spoils the moment.  But, almost by definition, normalcy cannot last.  Sooner or later we all turn out to be frail, or eccentric, or rejected, or for some other reason set apart from the mainstream.  My return to abnormality begins with the laboured whine of the electric pool lift, which interestingly groans more loudly the further out of the water we creep.  The complaint of the mechanical gears exactly matches my own lament: I don’t want to leave!  

But time is up, and I must depart the healing waters and return to my own particular brand of abnormality. Gravity is a dreadful thing. As Happy Hour gives way to the heavy burdens of the ‘real world’ I sometimes wonder: where do I really belong? I am a fish out of water.

They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were aliens and strangers on earth …
longing for a better country—a heavenly one.

The great thing is that I am never more than four days from a float.  Heaven, in every way, is just around the corner.


1Peter 1:8; Luke 17:21; John 5:4; Hebrews 11:13-16

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