"…there’s nothing uglier than a man hitting his stride…"

Excerpted from last night’s journal entry, written over a steaming mug of chamomile at the Muddy Cup, in between furtive glances at the cute girl sitting opposite me:

Since qualifying for long distance swimming in Lake Minnewaska two months ago, I have made very poor use of my privileges there; until today, I had only once been there to swim this summer. I broke my dry spell tonight after work. I also acheived my goal for this summer: I swam a mile. This brought up a sea of thoughts and memories for me, and one or two feelings as welll. I swam a mile once before, long ago. I was at Scout camp, and I think it was 1987 or 1988. I was by far the last of all the swimmers to finish. I remember how proud my father was of me; not so much immediately afterwards, but in the next year or two. … I’ve never liked the focus of attention to be on me…

I also remember the time that my father swam a mile. It was 1999, I think, one of the last times (if not the last time) that I was at the island with him. He went out for a swim before I woke up one morning, and he came back beaming with pride at his accomplishment. So swimming a mile today links me back to all of these memories.

When I’d finished swimming today – even before I’d finished, actually – I thought about the artificiality of this goal, and how meaningless it was for me to set myself this task, and to strive towards accomplishing it. Not even had the beautiful new building been completed, and I had already begun tearing it down. Maybe that has to do with not wanting the focus of attention to be on me; even when it is my own attention. Distrusting a sense of accomplishment and self-pride.


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