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Anna Deavere Smith

Actress, Playwright


I have been swimming since 1974. I've never had speed. People said it was my lackluster kick. The coach I work with told me that the problem was not my kick but my reach. For six months, I've been trying to mimic the way he reaches his arms, standing at the side of the pool, reminding me. "Reach! Reach!" I could hear him calling, in my memory, as I practiced daily on my own. Today I broke through! It wasn't with my arms but with my whole torso! My entire body unlocked. Getting unstuck is not so much about effort, I realized—it's more about moving forward with the natural flow of things. Power requires cooperation. What I needed to move through the water was full cooperation from my body. Then the water was no longer an obstacle but a vehicle.
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