Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Go jump in a lake

Nothing focuses the mind quite so well as slinking headfirst into a winter lake, the water hovering just above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

My mind, anyway.

Your mind might hold a different opinion in this scenario, such as: "Ooooowwwwuuuuuu
oooooowwww!" Or maybe,
"Get out! Get OUT! GET OUT!!!

I get it. Perfectly reasonable. "Reasonable" is an excellent word here.

Chances are your mind and body are not used to doing such a thing, may in fact desire very much not to do such a thing, because your mind, being smart, and your body, being precious, would react negatively to this being done — to the point of avoiding the near occasion of this precise happenstance.

Being used to it, however, I do not think such things. I get in immediately anymore, have done so for more than two years now, after the buddies I used to swim with decided they weren't putting up with my ritualistic easing-into-the-water bit, and left me behind.

I first think, upon first slink, "This is cold," in a detached, Spockian (Mr., not Dr.) manner, simply acknowledging a fact. But about 120 strokes (counting every other stroke), I think, "This is ideal now, so I might as well start slowing my stroke and practice slipping my arms in without making bubbles."

Sure enough, 120 strokes in (it's not an exact science; sometimes it's 117, others nearly 145) I am calm. I am suspended in solution, my limbs carrying on as if they had become the water, my left eye (I flunked bilateral breathing) checking progress, but both eyes looking down mostly, into the streaky green nothingness of my lake, my mouth frowning a little at the sight of bubbles.

I think spend a spare bit of thought to keep my arms wide and straight out, and resolve that I shouldn't be able to see them when my face is straight down in the water. It's an ongoing experiment.

In the chooka-whaush-splick-splacka-chosh of my moving, constantly moving, breathing and letting all the parts do their thing, I think things.

Sometimes I mean for such thoughts to happen. I think, "Something has been bugging me for a while; maybe this is a good time to work it out."

Sometimes the thoughts present themselves without warning, and I begin mulling unexpectedly. I suspect my mind has a mind of its own, and worries that I'm not worrying enough about such things.

In the former category are work things. A drawing I want to do is just not getting drawn, because it is literally a puzzle I'm trying to solve. Just a couple of days ago, the drawing appeared before my eyes in the green nothingness, bright little atoms of tiny things floating around each other to form a big thing. In the chooka-whaush-splick-splacka-chosh, in the mantra of sound and movement, I could see and think no other thing than these floating atoms, moving about at my will.

Many other days lately, I have been thinking about a writing project I need to finish, which wouldn't be so bad except I've barely started, and too much depends on it, too soon. I have been writing about the trees and ignoring the forest, I decided in the green nothingness, and have gone back to work trying to write the forest instead. I know a tremendous amount about bark, but bark won't get the job done.

These problems don't get solved entirely in the water; almost none of them do. But the sensory deprivation chamber of cold Lake Natoma helps me to see around and through them in a way that sitting in front of a computer in a warm office never will.

In the latter category of things my mind urges me to think, are things my conscience knows but won't admit to. More and more lately, for example, it urges me to consider I have gotten larger. And larger. I am regarding this thought these days in the green nothingness.

It is my own doing, of course. My life has changed; I am an office now, a real office and not a former bedroom, and nearby are snacks for everyone, that other office workers consume judiciously, The only diet plan that has worked for me is to not have snacks around in the first place. It worked fairly well at home; don't buy the stuff and they won't be there to be eaten. Lead us not into tin of cookies. Simple.

But there they are, in the real office, and I take them. It's my own doing.

I used to tell myself swimming would keep my weight in check, and now my conscience is screaming in the green nothingness it's not necessarily so. I swim routinely longer distances than I did in the first two years of open water swimming, but my conscience is pointing out, screaming politely, my body is just used to it now, and all this swimming is doing more wonders for mind than body, this daily solitude of cold green water.

My mind is using the swims to suggest I should do something in addition to swimming, to improve my health.

These problems don't get solved entirely in the water. 

No comments:

Post a Comment