I swam 50 laps on Friday.
The last week or two having done 20 and 30 laps, I didn’t know how much my body could handle so I pushed a little harder in order to find my limit. I don’t push harder because I want to lose weight. I don’t push harder because I want to punish myself. I don’t push harder because I ate something I “shouldn’t” have. I swim longer and longer because my body asks me to.
I’ve never been capable of understanding or listening to my body - we’ve been separated for decades. Speaking different languages, trying desperately to understand one another but failing. But that’s changing. As I rest, my arms hooked over the side of the pool, I think I’m ready to get out of the water. I intended to swim 20 laps because I didn’t want to go too hard too fast and burn out or exasperate any of my many injuries. It wasn't that I demanded more of my body, forcing myself to continue...it's that I didn’t want to stop. And the thought that came to mind was, “No…don’t stop. My body wants and needs this. I want and need this. It feels too fucking good to stop now.”
As I swim, I feel my muscles working, my arms and legs moving fast and strong. I’m in awe of it. I’m in awe of my body. Of how strong it is. I can’t believe this body swam 50 laps. Just like I couldn’t believe this body biked for miles and walked for one and a half. These are things I never expected. I never expected to find hidden parts of myself in a gym.
I’m on my back, watching the beams high above me . My ears are under the surface and all I hear is the muffled sound of my arms sluicing through the water before rising up above me then back down. I only feel the water dropping off my raised arms and hitting my face. For a moment, this is all there is. For a moment, there are no thoughts, just feeling, seeing, hearing. Everything in slow motion. Pure focus. For a moment I suddenly understand what meditation means. For a moment I understand, truly understand, what mindfulness means. There is nothing but this and no one but me.
My physical limitations make me feel like a burden. So fucking afraid to go new places and do new things and meet new people. I want to do all those thing but my body and brain don’t cooperate so shutting down and hiding is a way to protect myself. But now I look at my body and think, dude, you kick ass. I’m not as weak as I thought I was. This body of mine is powerful. This body of mine still manages to surprise me after more than three decades.
I’m stronger than I think I am. That’s something I need to never forget.