Labored breathing. Right effort. Quickened heartbeat. Mine. Arms, legs, head moving, pushing, pulling in rhythm with air exchange. Water supports yet provides resistance while embracing, engulfing and surrounding the body. The lane—all mine. It is my sanctuary, my temporary escape. Me and the water that surrounds me–simplicity. The water is dependably fluid and alive, willing to work in harmony with my efforts.
There’s only limited human activity at this place—only certain other humans come and go here. Relatively few—practically none if we compare to the nearby Interstate Highway. Those few others… we share this liquid refuge containing loud overhead fans which do not support human conversation—other swimmers only nod if there even is an exchange at all. That’s fine with me. Lifeguards watch over but do not otherwise interfere. They, too, seem lost in their own inner world; meditating in their own way I suppose. I like that about this place; every human consumed with their own workout concentration—each in their own thought. A sanctuary, a haven, a retreat, refuge. I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Pool Sangha.
The roof and walls here protect from too much sun during the summer months and in winter shelter from the cold.
Unique. Enchanting. Sacred. Magical. It wasn’t there when I started my swim—I’m sure I would have noticed that source of light and warmth on such a cold day. But as I lifted my head to turn back to swim the next lap, I noticed something for the very first time. High windows of thick glass harmonized with the late afternoon’s solar rays, translating them to multiple balls of white light catching my eyes and uplifting my heart. Oh, it was like Light Beings were looking in on my swim. Spirit Guides? Archangel Michael? I drew them into myself as I smiled and pushed off the wall strong with my legs to attack the next lap all the while secretly smiling at the enchantment of it all.
After every 600 yards, my custom is to stop and check my lap times, quickly take a 6 second pulse to see if I am within my target heart range and grab a sip of water. Those small breaks were made so enjoyable as I turned toward the window and the many balls of light and rays that the pattern in the thick glass made of Father Sun.
I thought of the life and experiences of the world of fish and other sea life between my counting of my laps as I finished my swim. If I’m completely honest, I fancy that I was once a fish. Am I pretending or is it a memory? Many times I wish that I could stay under water, could develop fins to breathe and swim in the ocean. I love the silent world of the underwater. If the chlorine wasn’t irritating my nose and if my fingers and toes didn’t start to wrinkle, I’d not want to get out at all.
I love this social circle of lap swimmers; perhaps all like me—loners. There’s a mutual respect, a secret knowing that we are all the same in some way. We choose the silence that immersing in water for an hour or some part of it can provide.
Some days my mind wanders and I’m suddenly uncertain what lap I’ve just completed, loosing count and my pace suffers as I try to figure that out. Other days, I’m aware of each stroke and how well I reached out, how consistent my kicks were and I know exactly what lap I’m on. It is about awareness, being fully present, fully awake, fully alive—heart beating, labored, right effort, quick breath, rhythmic movement supported by water which also provides resistance. Life Itself. As I reach the wall, the balls of light smile at me as Sun filters through the high window and I turn to swim another lap.