The Rewards of Persistence.



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Last night, I took a 90-minute flamenco technique class.   Much to my surprise I found my cardio has vastly improved.  Sure, I was pouring sweat, and my face and arms and legs were probably the same pink color as my skirt.  But I was never out of breath, and, even better, there was no one muscle group that felt strained or over-used.   I felt uniformly fatigued, but in a good way.  I got home and did a brief EBAS session while JC and I watched our secret vice, Big Brother.

This morning was a different story.   I went to EBAS class, and it was great - as always.   Then ballet started, and I felt so exhausted.   Wrung out.   Both my body and my head.  It was as if the captain of my brain-ship was drunk at the wheel.   Everything was a struggle - pointing my feet, sliding through the floor, keeping my pelvis aligned.   I was aware throughout that my shoulders and arm muscles were in a world of aching fatigue.   It wasn't until we got to the center and did jumps, that suddenly my brain switched out of neutral and into drive.

I planned to swim today after classes.   It has been on my schedule all week.   And I kept putting it off.    I ran errands.   I did some shopping.  I gorged myself on crunchy almond butter.  I drank coffee.   I took a nap.   I decluttered my music scores.   Lunchtime turned to afternoon, which turned to evening.

At 7:30 I finally went down.   I thought about how good it would feel to be able to say I met my fitness goals this week.   My plan for this swim was to go for 30 laps without stopping or putting my feet down, then another 20.  And if I had anything left in me, to keep going.

The water was cold, but I plunged in.   For the first ten laps, Sabotage (my inner slacker) tried to murmur sweet nothings about how hard I had already worked today, and why don't we just call it a night?   But I went for 50 laps (2500 feet), almost without stopping, only pausing to adjust my mask.   I put my feet down maybe five times.   Of those 50 laps, 5 were the hated backstroke.

This swim was a struggle, physically, and mentally.   I made myself keep going.   The sun was going down, but there was enough light to paint the inside of the pool in shades of aqua and green ombre.

After 50 laps, I stretched out, feeling like I was pretty much done.   Then I thought I would do a couple of laps of backstroke.   I aligned my sights on Goliath, a big pine tree that keeps me centered in the pool (instead of veering off sideways into stairs).

Did I mention how very much I dislike backstroke?

Heading into the other direction, back into the deep end, there wasn't any one tree to align myself with, so I settled on the gap between two shorter trees.   And then, a few strokes into the lap, the most amazing thing happened...

The full moon came up and was framed in that gap.   It seemed like the entire world went held its breath in that moment,  still, hushed and reverent, as I pulled myself through the water, and looked up at that golden moon cradled in the silhouettes of the trees.

I love swimming.   Swimming makes me feel strong.   Swimming makes me feel alive.   Swimming lets me exist solely in the moment that I am gliding through the water.  Swimming makes me feel at peace and in love with the Universe when I am out of the water.   All the anxieties, all the pettiness, all the trivialities, just melt away, and what is left is happiness.

I am so glad I stayed the course.   I would not have had that golden moment this evening, otherwise.

I did ten laps of backstroke, gazing up at the moon on each return lap.   Then I pulled myself out of the water, toweled off, and smiled all the way up The Hill.


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Postscript:  I am in bed now, writing on my laptop, listening to Bach... and marvelling that it took me until 10pm tonight to remember that I could take two ibuprofen to alleviate the aching I have felt all day.   Ahhhh.   Sometimes I am such an airhead, I amaze me.

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