Monday, August 5, 2013

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'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.


  1. Congratulations on what you've done, and maybe more importantly on finding some fun in improving your health (health meaning health, not size, body fat, etc... etc...)

    Swimming can be wonderful.

  2. You've captured the wonder of swimming! If you ever are in Vancouver, BC call me and we'll go swimming in the sea! (It's not that cold, promise.)

  3. I think you are finding yourself and liking what you have found. Good for you.

  4. You're bloody brilliant. I just thought you should know.