137 Meters

by Simon Goland, August 8, 2011

Today’s Reflection is about swimming, beginner’s mind, and wake up calls.

The outdoor pool in Kitsilano is of a very strange length, 137 meters. Apparently, it is 150 yards, which also doesn’t mean much to me. The only thing it means right now is tight muscles.

I love swimming, both for being in the water, and also as a fitness activity. Low impact, unlike running, and a wonderful workout on most muscle groups, as well as breathing. I used to swim regularly, until I got tired of smelling like a walking chlorine promotion; because there was no workable alternative for me, I stopped completely. Except for irregular, yet still delightful, swims in the ocean.

Recently, I decided to restart swimming, and given that it is summer – albeit questionable – in Vancouver, the outdoor pool is open and I started swimming there. After many months of not swimming for fitness, restarting such an activity is a wake-up call and a lesson in humility.

“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” – Oscar Wilde

It is fascinating to me when I look at my own opinion and perspective of myself. I mean, it really is not the first time I restart an activity, after a long time-out, yet still expecting the same results as though it was just yesterday I did it last. While my body does remember the technique and the swimming – or other – moves, the muscles had a long rest and are not ready to jump to attention that soon. They tell me, that despite what I might want to think of myself, I need to start at the beginning, again and again, allowing the integration and alignment of my whole being to occur. Over time.

“Of all the virtues we can learn, no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.”

There is richness at the “starting at square one” approach, as I get to see, sense, and experience the re-awakening of those parts of me that have been neglected, or simply under-utilized, for a period of time. The feeling of coming alive is rich and delicious, as I come back to myself again, as if reconnecting to an old friend who came back for a visit.

I seem to have been overestimating my capabilities, which is not the first time I do it when it relates to my physical fitness. I wonder where else I might be over-estimating myself. And, at least as interesting is the question, where am I under-estimating?

One day I will learn. I hope, that is.

A sunny week to you all, inside and out.