Thursday, October 15, 2015


It is not irritating to be where one is. It is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else.


Plunge in
 It is the eventuality. Life is not coming to us. We have to go to it. People stand at the edge of a pool or in the shallow part of the ocean. Waiting for what? The only way to get used to it is to get in – plunge, jump, stride or dive. We’re not going anywhere if we wait on the shore. Are we waiting for life to begin?
Do ‘it’
The dreaded thing. Send a thank you note; show up for a dinner; call and apologize - even when you don’t feel like it. It is always a surprise. Frankly, I wake up every day and think I will skip swimming. Then doing it changes everything.
We can get used to anything when it is good for us. For decades I swam in the same pool. I learned to swim in a new place. At first I wondered if I would be comfortable getting up in the morning and not going to my old place. One day I realized I didn’t think about it anymore.
Be flexible
I swam in the morning for years. Then life interfered and I had to go at other times. It was liberation to discover if I didn’t swim in the morning, I could still swim! I was free.
Stay open-minded
Learning to swim in a new place – even in a new place in the pool - is like learning to sit in a new place. I see classmates come to class rushing to claim the place where they sat or practiced during class a week earlier or the day before, so anxious to have their ‘real estate’. It is very important to have different angles and viewpoints and to let the world have a different slant on us. We behave differently when we sit in the front row instead of the back row. Move around. What is crucial is the ability to be in different places in our heads and in our hearts.
           You never know what is going to happen
Life is full of surprises and the greatest surprises come from within. Often I think I am too tired or decide (ahead of time) that I will only do half my swim. Unexpectedly I have the best swim of my week or a longer swim than I have had in ages. Who can tell ahead of time?
           Learn from others
Keep improving. We can always get ‘better’ and we can always grow. Although I am swimming since I was walking, recently I took a swimming lesson. My stroke improved. I got some pointers about my kicking. It took a few weeks to integrate what I learned and to get comfortable but I did improve and I am a better swimmer.
           Get the most out of what there is
Some days I have to rush or I get to the pool a bit later than I planned. I have less time than I wanted. I make the most out of what there is. Something is always better than nothing.
Do not put obstructions in front of yourself 
We can learn to do things we never thought we could do. The biggest obstruction of all is comparing ourselves to someone else. There is always someone who is a stronger swimmer or a prettier swimmer, a faster swimmer. Why think about them? They are bigger, younger, and different. Give all the attention to yourself. It is not irritating to be where one is. It is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else.
           Change does not mean decline
All things change, nothing is extinguished. When I was younger I swam relatively fast. I have slowed down. I don’t do ‘heats’ anymore. But I am strong in other ways. I have endurance. It takes longer but it gets accomplished. Stagnation is degenerative but change is evolving. Change is the only evidence of life.
Stay present
When I swim I try to keep focused on swimming. Where are my eyes looking? Am I breathing into each lung evenly; kicking with equal strength? My mind wanders and then I work to get my focus back and to really think about what I am doing in the moment. It is good practice. (I confess I have made shopping lists or decided what I was going to wear to a party while swimming. I sort out a lot. But I keep coming back to my swim.)
Set modest goals
We can always exceed them.

It’s good when its over – good that it was done and good that it is done.