There is no question that being alone is a part of being a writer. John Irving said that he knew he needed to be a writer because he wanted to be alone.
Now, I’m generally a friendly person. I like to be around people. Many have joked that my name is very appropriate. It is in many ways. But like Irving, I also like my quiet time. For me that time comes to me when I am swimming.
When I am swimming, a different element surrounds me in a cocoon of peace, calming in its familiarity. Cool water and muted calm broken only by the echo of my breath in my ears and the rhythmic chunk, chunk, chink of my strokes as I power myself along the surface, legs kicking behind me like the roll of a paddle churning behind a riverboat.
Alone to think,or to listen to my thoughts as they roll past my mind’s eye, mental clouds against a blue sky of brain matter. My unfocused eyes peering out from the goggles, watching the sunlight dance through the water, shimmering and bouncing on the angles of the tiles like little white flames burning in the water.
Here I can fly, just like the dreams I used to have so often when I was young but now less frequently. I am suspended in the air soaring over the pool floor, a superhero with the power to change my mood, my stroke, and my course.
I still love swimming but too often a pool is elusive. A schedule dominated by the needs of others does not lend itself to the scarce nature of pool availability. As I pass, it beckons with lanes of possibility. But with a sad glance and a commitment elsewhere I pass by, an opportunity missed.
Today was not one of those days and like old friends I found my reassuring rhythm again. I was away from the daily responsibilities and commitments and back to myself. If only a respite, it is a welcome one that can help the call of duty feel less painful and more joyful.
Life is simple here. Stoke left, stroke right, breathe. Repeat. Stroke left, stroke right, breathe. If only all of our lives were this simple.
I find inspiration in the calm I get from my swim time. My advice to you is to find your “pool” and immerse yourself in it today.