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Swimming no matter what

February 8, 2010

The last thing I wanted to do this morning was go swimming.

But there was absolutely no reason not to head straight to the Y first thing today for my Sunday swim. No long Sunday breakfast with Bob – he’s in Massachusetts, packing for his move.  My son Alex is away on a school trip. No, nothing keeping me at home.

Since recovering from back surgery three years ago, I have been determined to make my three-times-a-week swim commitment an absolute requirement.  Not that I always make it there that often.  The last two Sundays my swim was pre-empted due to a swim meet at the Y.  Oh, too bad, I thought, secretly relieved that I now had a good excuse to weasel out of getting cold and wet.

The truth of it is, I never want to go swimming.  Never. On cold winter mornings especially, waking up when it’s still dark, I lie in bed thinking, there is absolutely, positively no way that I’m going to get in the pool this morning. At that moment, I hate the idea of swimming.  Maybe I’ll go to the gym instead, where I can stay warm. I swam twice already in the last week; what’s the harm of missing just this one time? I washed my hair yesterday – do I really want to have to do it all over again?

No way.

Then what usually happens is that I get out of bed and pull on a bathing suit. Just in case.

About an hour later I am sitting on the side of the pool at Y, pulling on flippers. The water is cold and I’m thinking, again, no way. No frigging way.

This is how I know that there must be a Power Greater Than Myself.  Because by what can only be some Divine miracle, the next thing I know is that I’m in the water.  After a brief “Oh, shit! It’s cold” I make it  the opposite wall of the pool.  And then, every time, there’s this:

Aaaaahhhhhh…..  This feels – so – good.

Suddenly the water is warm, and I’m loving the feeling of being cradled. The rhythmic motion of my strokes lets my mind buzz off into six different directions at once – a total brain vacation. Suddenly I’ve done ten laps, then twenty …

Forty-five minutes and about fifty laps later, I climb out of the pool, feeling like a million bucks.

Every time this happens – and I assure you, this is exactly what happens every time – I am completely mystified by the fact that I never, ever, want to go swimming. Why should I feel such dread at the prospect of something that turns out to be not only not so terrible, but actually one of the most pleasurable things I do all week?

I have learned something quite useful from this, when applied to the rest of my life.  Namely, not always to trust my instincts.  Sometimes what I least want to do turns out, in retrospect, to be absolutely wonderful.

I remember dreading the idea of divorce. Looking at my single mother who struggled with finances and sadness, and thinking: that will never be me, never.  Only to find that the best years of my entire life, so far, have been the last fifteen years in which I have joyfully raised my three sons as an independent single mother.  Having the opportunity to enjoy my children in a way I never could before. Best of all, I have come to know myself.

Who knew?

Is there anything in you life you absolutely dreaded – or find yourself trying to avoid again and again – that surprises you by turning out great? I’d be interested to know.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 8, 2010 12:48 am

    What a great reminder of pushing past our comfortable self, the one who doesn’t want to get into better shape, grow her business, have a more vibrant life. How often have I met that self, only to stare her down and move right on past her. I found myself in this blog, from the resistance to what’s best for us, to the acknowledgment of the smarter self. Thanks for writing and sharing with your readers from your depths (and with humor, which I love!)


  2. February 8, 2010 2:29 am

    Great metaphor! Like Zig Ziglar says “motivation follows the action”.

  3. Julie Elizabeth permalink
    February 9, 2010 7:27 pm

    Wonderful article. I can totally identify. It applies to almost everything in my life! I never seem to want to do things, but always have a wonderful time once I get out and do them. I have this marvelous ability to enjoy whatever I’m doing, be it walking with the dogs, swimming, reading, cooking – even doing dishes, although fortunately I live with a partner whose job it is to do them, as I do the cooking. Even travelling, which I plan with great relish, but when the time comes to go, I never want to! Of course, I always do, and never have any regrets. Even dieting – or should I say, adopting a healthier life style: for sure, I never want to do that. But always, once I get into the new routine, I love it. And yes, going to the pool and swimming is one of those activities, too. So why the reluctance? If you have an answer to that one, I’d be glad to hear it! 🙂

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