I’ve been procrastinating about it for ages.
Not that I don’t get in the water – I do. Each time, kicking inwardly against the numbers. One length, ten lengths, forty lengths, sixty.
Every time, the same sense of not-reaching-it; you used to do three, four, five kilometres at a time. What is this paddling about for half an hour? What is this not-enough?
For a while now, I’ve had a resolution forming.
Just do one length impeccably. Even: do one stroke impeccably. Just one. No thoughts, just the cycle of breathe-stretch-kick-pull.
Every time I get into the water, I forget the resolution.
Every time I get into the water, I shift back into the same stuck record: You have to do a minimum of one kilometre. Surely one freaking kilometre’s not too much to ask.
Which means every length to make up the minimum is nothing but marking time, marking distance. And, provoked by solitude, the mind goes: into the future, into the past, round and round, chasing its tail. Eventually the marker is reached. Then going any further becomes impossible. You’ve done what you came to do; you might as well get out.
Today, I took it a little differently. Today I just got into the water.
No counting. No expectation. No mental drilling through history as some inner war against the constant forward motion. Rather: just me and the water. Breathe, pull, kick; a twist of the hips and the satisfying connection of soles of feet pushing off from the wall, again and again and again. Just for a few moments, I let go of numbers, calculations, predictions, expectations, and went with the water.
One breath at a time. I’m not even sure I clocked a kilometre. Though maybe it was two. I didn’t check the time when I got in or got out. But by five this afternoon, Kolya and I drifted into a perfect nap with the same complete exhaustion: he from his afternoon swimming class, me from my morning swim.