Keep Swimming: Letting Go Is Possible.
Swimming has taught me to be more like water.
It has not taught me to persevere, push through the pain, but that my body and mind are connected every instant of every day like droplets on a window pane, and that I need to bend like a river sometimes, or be a force like a wave.
The water reacts, but indifferently. It doesn’t think about what is fair, what is just, why it was pushed into waves by the current or the wind. It moves, it finds the path of least resistance, and flows throw it. It is about movement. It is about strength, stillness and force, and the natural movement between them.
I experience static: pieces of me — grey, black and white — want to go in all different directions. Overwhelmed with information and worry, they fly around my head. My monkey mind picks nitty-gritty thoughts from my brain, eats them and howls with enjoyment.
They bubble up in frothy crests. My friend and I have not spoken in a while and I wonder if she has forgotten about me, with all of her success. I feel cut off from the life I once had. My parents are aging, and I worry about whether I can be there for them emotionally, as they once were for me.
I remember that embarrassing thing I did about 10 years ago at four o’clock in the morning and it has been on my mind ever since. I set ambitious goals and fail to meet them. I wonder if my business will ever take off.
I walk out onto the deck of the pool. I pick at my bathing suit and try to hide my limp, but the tiles feel familiar and the air is warm and silent.
I dip my feet into the bright blue water and lower myself quickly so as not to feel the coolness of the water and the resistance in my body.
Lap One: My mind still flutters around with worries like crumpled-up pieces of paper. I can’t get anywhere and my muscles fight against the water as they wake up, confused and whining. I am fighting against the water and trying to control my thoughts.
Lap Two: My gaze sets on the smooth curl of a wave in front of me, and my knuckles just underneath the surface, gripped tightly to the flutter board. My monkey mind sits on my bum and pushes my legs, happy to have a job.
My thoughts resist. I think of all the things I should be angry about today. My bad leg begins to falter, and instead of swimming, I am floundering, but my body corrects for the anger. It marches my thoughts through my arms and out into the water.
Then, I begin the front crawl. I push forward and I count 1, 2, 3, breathe, 1, 2, 3, breathe. My monkey mind struggles with the rhythm, and is less focused on the nits in my head. 1, 2, 3… My breathing is no longer controlled by my thoughts, but by my body and its need to survive, to breathe.
1, 2, 3, breathe. I push off from the opposing wall and learn how my body moves faster by finding the path of least resistance against the now ubiquitous water. It doesn’t make me a stronger swimmer to make the bigger splash, or use the most muscles. My mind focuses on long perfect strokes, and the water seems now like helping hands lifting me further, instead of thick, wet, concrete against my skin.
I find a way to apply this to my thinking and my day. My mind now expands to fit the shape of water.
Lap Four: My body ceases to count my 1,2,3’s and I can close my eyes. My body no longer needs instruction from my mind. My breathing is natural.
I cut through the water like a fin, like a blade. My thoughts are the same. They make themselves streamlined, I no longer resist my worrying thoughts, but my creativity learns to swallow them whole. They become the nutrients to feed my ambition. Anger becomes justice, worry becomes love, failure becomes inspiration, everything becomes a new movement through the bright blue pool.
Lap Ten: I become like the water. Outside, on the concrete underneath skyscrapers, I am a quiet girl with a limp. I can’t run, or do the things I used to do, but in here I am expansive. I create thoughts and they flow through my body like a wave, and that wave flows through the water and creates ripples that touch the four corners of my world.
If there is an obstacle, water will move around it, or engulf it.
Water does not move in progression, but is, and then lets go. I let go. My thoughts are born, flow through my body, and then I let them go. Good or bad, I let them go. I soon have faith that there will be more angry moments, sad moments, happy moments. I must cherish all of them and let them go. I do not progress through the water, but process.
My body grows tired of its expansive nature and I draw myself out from the water, lifting my weaker leg with the stronger parts of me, towel myself off, and eventually walk on the rain-soaked concrete sidewalk, trying to hold on to the feeling. But, my cane tap-tap-taps on the concrete, my feet slap-slap-slap against the concrete. I breathe, and then let go.
Adrianna Stipanovich has always dreamt about a life that was a little different. Though she graduated from Concordia with a Literature degree, she went directly into business, starting as a soapmaker in her family business and ending up as Operations Manager. Though she found success, she wanted more. She realized her dream after traveling to India and discovering there is a whole world to live in. She has since lived in jungles and deserts and written articles, short stories, and a novel. Writing is her dream and the world her office.