Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Therapy, Or Why I Like To Swim

I can't be upstairs with my grandparents right now because they're watching Minute to Win It. I don't have anything against that show, but it makes me so nervous to watch people do ridiculous things like bounce pencils into cups or balance a slinky on their head. I just can't handle it. Don't ask me why, usually game shows don't have this adverse of an effect on me, but that's just how this is. (I'd much rather be watching Hour to Deflower, right Davo?) So here I am, in the basement, Sparlke, Sparkling it up for you all.

I've been swimming a lot lately and I've been thinking about why it is that I like this form of exercise so much. One, I hate to run, and this feels a little like the kinder, gentler cousin of running that doesn't make me want to scream in agony. Two, I like being in the water. I always have. As long as it's not frigid, I'm happy being in a pool or lake or ocean. It just feels nice, don't ask me why. And three, swimming is the best form of self-therapy I've ever discovered. Think about it. You can't really listen to an iPod in the pool (unless you get super fancy and buy a bunch of water-proof gear, but that's kind of ridiculous in my opinion). So there's a ton of time to think. Sometimes it's trivial thinking, but recently I've seen a lot of correlation between the act of moving through the water and just life in general. Bear with me here. Swimming can be broken down into three simple parts.

Pull. This would be the arms part, for those of you unfamiliar with the sport. This is where I do the most work, mostly because my legs get lazy, but I can be much more efficient when I really reach forward on each stroke. That's basically how life works, right? I don't think I need to tell you that if you put a little effort into whatever it is you're doing, it's easier to achieve those goals. I've been mood-swingy about my current job and life situation these days - feeling like I'm not really good at what I'm being asked to do at work, and not always enjoying it either. Maybe I'm not reaching far enough. Recently, Devin told me she doesn't want to see me settle simply because it's the easy thing to do. What a wise best friend I have. It's hard to pull yourself forward, but you kind of just have to do it to keep moving.

Kick. Obvious what this is about. Like I mentioned before, this is where I get lazy. It's really easy to let my arms do all the work and sort of drag along in the back. But that's exhausting, because then I have to deal with all of this dead weight that naturally wants to sink to the bottom of the pool. Hellooooo life metaphor! What happens when we don't actively work to slough off the negativity in our life? Yeah, it just tries to drown us. Whether it's tricky emotions, bad habits, or being tied down to the past, we have to kick these things if we want any chance of staying afloat. Get them off and away, and make sure they don't sneak back and grab hold again.

Breathe. This part is so rhythmic, you would think I'd forget it was happening. But this is the part that hurts the most. Not a consistent hurt, but when I'm tired, every breath is like fire in my lungs. And you can't just breathe however you want to, unless you want a nose full of water (which I don' will make me sneeze). Swimming forces me to breathe on a beat, a pulse, a 1-2-3-Breathe, 1-2-3-Breathe. Sometimes I don't think I'm going to make it past the 1-2, but I always do. I've never (yet) had to stop in the middle of the pool because I simply can't catch my breath. Even though it hurts and aches, I've realized I can go a lot further than I think. And such is life, no? Maintaining a sense of rhythm in life is good. It means we have something to push us along when we feel we're losing our grip. Just stick with your beat, whatever it is, and you'll probably be able to keep going even when it's rough.

So that's why I like to swim. Because I can find ways to cope with life and the curveballs it throws at me. Because it gives me some time to myself where I can reflect on the day or create my mental to-do list or whatever. And because when I'm finished, I come out totally clean. And that's a sparkly life-thought, too.

1 comment:

  1. Abigail (or is it Abbigail? I can never remember), I'd have to say this post is well done and well thought out. You couldn't have said it better. When I swam in high school I'd take that time to think about my stupid high school life. I think if I did it today it'd be one more aspect in life that would help me try to live a more grounded life. Just because as adults our problems are more real; they need more thought. Swimming is the prefect time to do all that.

    I personally hate running as well. When I run I think of it as an A to B kinda deal. When am i gonna get to the end?!?! So I've picked by cycling. I know what you're thinking. No, not the room full of 20-some year old girls with "guy stricken" problems on stationary cycles trying to sweat it off. Real cycling, with wheels and a destination. Totally a workout that gives you a high (the good kind). Thats another sport that gives you time to think about life. Maybe at a bit quicker of a pace, but thought nonetheless. Especially when you have Lake Michigan as your scenery, it really forces you to reflect about life. If you ever get a hold of a road bike, which can be a bit pricey (or just snag your brothers, like I did). Give it a spin (pun pun pun), you might find it enjoyable.