I swam in an indoor pool yesterday for the first time since well before the pandemic began. Nursing an injured ankle, I was looking for a way to stay active but off my feet.
I entered the pool area wearing my swimsuit (which seems to have shrunk a bit), my cool Chicago flag mask and lots of trepidation. Though fully vaccinated, I have been proceeding with caution. Surveying the pool, I noticed just a few swimmers and an empty lane. I put on my cap and goggles and reluctantly took my mask off. This was a little scary.
As I walked to the end of my lane, I had two options – take the plunge or get in slowly. It struck me that I was about to engage in a significant re-entry. I was also aware that in the coming months, there will be lots of these types of opportunities not just to swimming pools but to workplaces, restaurants, and hopefully nursing homes. Maybe this was a time to be bold. To be courageous. To take the plunge.
After a reflective moment, I knew that this wasn’t the invitation for me. Instead, I entered slowly. First a toe. Then an ankle. Another ankle. My knees. Followed by a long pause, as I sat on the edge surveying the pool. Then I lowered my waist in. And then my chest. Finally, I ducked under and began to swim. The water was amazingly warm!
I usually swim with the goal of getting my laps in as quickly as possible. This time was different. I began a leisurely breaststroke, taking time to notice how my ankle responded as I kicked. It felt okay, but I didn’t speed up. Instead, I noticed the sun shining through the window, creating a brilliant strip of light in my lane. I followed the light, taking in its patterned shapes on the bottom of the pool. I noticed some stiffness in my right shoulder and tried to relax it a bit. I gently paid attention to my breathing. It felt good to linger in the water, moving slowly from one end of the pool to the other. I was swimming with a new sense of presence.
For me, this last year has been a time of slowing down. Unlike many essential workers, I’ve had the luxury of working from home several days/week which has greatly reduced my commute time. And there has been nowhere to go on the weekends which has been a surprising gift.
I also have a new spiritual mentor, Shadow, my 14-year-old dog. Shadow constantly reminds me that we have nothing to do except stop at every single tree, as we meander around the block. I’m learning to walk at his pace, and I’m even starting to like it.
So, what’s next? I do look forward to the re-opening of our world; there’s a list of things I want to do. But most importantly, I want to be. To notice. To relax. To breathe. To continue to sink into this new sense of presence.
We can take the plunge or get in slowly. What is the invitation for you?
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