Entry: The tyranny of the horizontal Saturday, July 03, 2010



I was able to accomplish a smooth turn at the wall in the pool a couple of days ago. This is the first time I've actually completed it. I usually get a tiny sliver of panic/uncertainty that I can turn and swim away without being overwhelmed. It is an unrealistic, emotional response of fear that distracts me/impedes me. So I come up at the wall and take extra breaths before heading back. It is exciting to conquer this tiny panic. Swimming offers small triumphs -- for me. When I feel changes in my physical responses -- more graceful movements, better posture, deeper breathing, more strength, more stamina - (stamina is a thing easy to observe and gratifying to document) - I credit swimming.
When I thrust a pair of hard, foam dumbbells into the water between my legs in fifth position and jump up and kick my legs to right and left diagonally I always laugh heartily. It's an exhilarating feeling. I ponder how many complex, exhilarating, deeply pleasurable movements we don't perform on land because of social convention, physics and THE TYRANNY OF UPRIGHT STANCE. Are we not in our finest moments when we are horizontal: sleeping, swimming, making sex, dead? Straight is possible -- perhaps more possible- in the horizontal. I often feel that when I straighten in the water -- trying to accomplish my best technique my body engages all of my sometimes very lazy abs and back muscles and I can tell that I am as straight as I will ever be. I push my fingers toward an aqua horizon - my forehead is at the water's lips as I try to do the stroke right. I'm reaching and I put all that I am reaching for just ahead of my fingertips so that I will keep forward. For the first time yesterday, I realized the confidence to make the turn without fear -- without breaking for a "calming" breath -- and begin to go for the other wall. Sometimes I wiggle my fingers beneath the water. It is an expression of glee and of confidence that I don't have to be technically perfect to swim -- swimming is to be enjoyed -- it is a personal practice. I learned this from the many people I encounter at the pool. Some go up and down the lanes doing things that my swimming teacher told me not to do. Yet they are moving contentedly and most any movement you make that doesn't drown you or befoul the water is good exertion/good therapy.

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