After work this afternoon, I drove up to Lake Minnewaska to swim laps, as I usually do a few times a week in the summer months.  Last week I swam a mile, my usual distance, almost entirely front crawl – not my usual stroke.  It felt like a victory; usually, there are triathletes swimming alongside me (rather, passing me), and they swim nothing but front crawl.  I understand why.  It’s faster than most other strokes, and relatively energy conservative.  So I thought that was what I was supposed to do, and last week I did as much of it as I can manage.  I learned something last week.  I learned that I don’t like front crawl.  It’s boring.  There’s nothing to really look at because my head keeps shifting position, and I can’t really think about anything either because I’m constantly trying to remember whether I’m supposed to breathe on my left or my right next.  Yes, it’s faster, but who the hell cares?  I’m not racing anyone.  I’m not training for anything.  I’m swimming because it feels good to be in the water, and I like to swim.  Rushing through it completely defeats the purpose.

So this week I started with front crawl, started to remember all the reasons I don’t like it, and I changed what I was doing.  I swam my laps in a mixture of breaststroke, sidestroke, and elementary backstroke.  I tried to focus on my breath today and make swimming more of a pranayama exercise.  My body knows what to do in the water, I don’t really need to focus that much on what my muscles are doing.  So I let go of that, and instead focused on breath and the sensation of water flowing over my body.  Very VERY different experience this week than last.  I swam further too; a mile plus a victory lap.

I don’t know if I need to push myself as hard as I’m accustomed to.  Or anyway, not on the same stupid things.  It doesn’t seem to win me any happiness, and I’m growing tired of taking actions with questionable benefit for myself or others.


little things

  • Swim update: Swim season at Minnewaska started this past weekend, though I didn’t have a chance to get up to the lake until today. I did my mile – half freestyle, quarter side, quarter breast. I love the feeling of shaky exhaustion that I experience at the end of a swim. Oh, also: there are newts and tadpoles in the lake!
  • Robin update: The chicks have left the nest! They were doing little test flights on Saturday, and when I came back from Massachusetts on Sunday, they (and mama bird) were gone. So, two weeks from eggs to flight capable. Pretty amazing, especially when you consider that some humans take 30 or more years to leave the nest.
  • Foodie porn: Summer CSA distributions have begun, so I’m once again up to my ears in greens, peas, cabbage, beets, spring onions, broccoli, &c. I guess I’m not going to have to worry about getting enough roughage for a while. I wonder if any of this would make good ice cream… maybe the basil? Do I dare? Most everybody likes mint ice cream, so it wouldn’t be so much of a stretch; basil is in the same family. H’mmm… something to ponder.
  • Last day of the swim season…

    …so I decided I’d best make the most of it. It wasn’t my best swim of the season, probably, but it wasn’t my worst either. I did four laps, 3/8 of the total distance of which was freestyle. Upon exiting from the water, I had the pleasant sensation of exhaustion and dizziness that I often feel after a good workout. Afterwards, I picked and froze about a quart of wild blueberries. Then I came home and took a nap. Not a bad way to start the day.

    I’ve found a pattern in my television viewing habits: I turn on the TV, flip through the channels until I find the least obnoxious programme, then, after about twenty minutes of viewing, realize that I’m scowling, fidgety, and slightly anxious. Then I turn off the TV. Maybe it’s time to hide the remote from myself. There are certainly better ways I could be spending my time.

    I feel like I’m nestled between two extremes right now. Twice in the past month, friends have told me that they’re pregnant, which is wonderful and exciting. On the other hand… I have another friend who is self-destructing, who will (hopefully) be checking into a rehab tomorrow, if he doesn’t back out at the last minute. And my brother is apparently attempting to construct a wall between himself (and his girlfriend) and the rest of the world. So here I am sitting in the middle of all this, happy and slightly envious of my friends who are creating new life, concerned about (and slightly angry at) those who are bent on destroying the good things they have.

    Swim update

    After a few weeks of hardly any yoga and lots and lots of swimming, I have the following to report: 1. My endurance is definitely improved… over a mile is no longer a problem. 2. My speed must be improving too. The swim-freestyle-for-laps-and-laps-and-laps people were there last night doing their thing, and they only passed me 3 times (last time I swam with them, it was 4, and over a shorter distance).

    I’ll be in yoga class tonight… I’m kind of dreading it, I know I lose flexibility quickly when I don’t practice regularly.

    There’s a “master swim class” tomorrow up at Minnewaska that I will probably go to. The last time I took swimming lessons was twenty or more years ago at the YMCA, and for the vast majority of those two decades I wasn’t doing any sort of proper swimming at all, so I know my technique definitely has room aplenty for improvement. In fact, I’m almost embarrassed to go to the class tomorrow and be critiqued.

    I leave for Guatemala on Monday… maybe I should start packing or something. I looked up “to shower” in my Spanish/English dictionary today. “Ducharse.” I don’t think I’ll have difficulty remembering that one. Sheesh, I can be so puerile sometimes.

    I had a discussion last night about whether it’s okay to be angry at someone else (or yourself) when you recognize that anger really isn’t appropriate or well warranted. Maybe okay vs not okay is not the right way to look at it. When I get stuck in anger, figuring out whether it’s justified never gets me anywhere. I just get more and more frustrated. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s an intractable situation and there’s just nothing else to do with it. What I really need is a distraction.