“Smile, breathe and go slowly”~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Feel like I stepped from suspended animation and awoke on a star-ship outside the Galaxy where I’m “floating” majestically on a current of the air.
Air? There’s a current all right, but it ain’t coming from air or the lack of gravity beneath, above or around me. I’m floating on water. A cool, refreshing substance that’s as palpable as liquid jello. You know, the jello you stir right before refrigerating the stuff,waiting for it to develop into that wobbling mass of fun and delight!
That is exactly how I feel as my body’s supported by nothing but buoyancy. I am a “lighter” being in water. I need not touch bottom or hold onto any rail or concrete side of a pool. I am spread-eagled on the surface, occasionally moving my legs to keep afloat, momentarily not caring whether I “come or go.” That’s the exciting thing about swimming. You are your own boss, subject only to your own desires in the water. You can swim 36 lengths of the pool– like I do — if you like, or just stay put, stay afloat and let your eyes close and your mind open wide.
I let my eyes focus on a straight line in the ceiling here at the LA fitness pool in Andorra, a section of Roxborough in Philadelphia. I follow the line from one end of the pool to another, thinking of nothing except the several times I travel the pool’s length. Got to get up to “6” before I take no notice of the water’s temperature. It’s always cool to the touch upon entering, but exercising warms you up and merges your body temperature with the water world surrounding it.
I do the “back stroke” until I hit number “9,” when I turn onto my stomach and slowly swim over hand, looking above and around me to see who else is in the pool or soaking in the hot whirlpool spa at the side of the room. Have trouble breathing while swimming overhand. Never learned to pace myself. Just try to stay focused on “nothing” until I can turn myself over and swim on my back on reaching “10.”
What a great exercise! I know it’s good for my digestion. I can often feel a burp rising somewhere near the esophagus. Today, it was generated from the bacon and eggs, hash browns and French toast sticks I had from the IKEA special breakfast earlier. Never has a belch felt so good or so welcomed. And LOUD. Particularly, if no one is near you and you can let it out to your heart’s content.
I switch to overhand swimming at “18” and when I reach “27.” They represent one-half and 3/4ths of my scheduled swim, respectively. By now, I have developed lots of endorphins, and I feel a little lighter . . . stronger . . . more independent. While I’m alone, I become one with the water, the others in the pool, and all of those outside the window showcasing the dozens of persons exercising on the main floor.
Here comes number “35” which I swim more leisurely, knowing that my goal is now within reach and I need do nothing more than “push” that last length as hard and as fast as I can to get that finish line, heart pumping, breathing fast, and feeling as alive as that kid running or bicycling up a hill, laughing all the way. What a way to “smile,” what a way to “breathe,” what a way . . . (to eventually) . . . “go . . . slowly.”