Like every Aussie kid, I was taught at a young age how not to drown and thanks to my Rubenesque physique, I float like a cork. There’s no question that I can propel myself through water and I’m water-confident but none of that amounts to ‘swimming’, at least not with any grace or style.
As I sit and write this though, I have to confess that my motivation is pretty low. A lot has happened since being released from meditation boot-camp, not just for myself but for those around me, in particular, my sister Bec with whom I’ve made this commitment to better health and fitness. Her stories are not mine to tell though they seem inextricably linked with my own right now in terms of how I’ve been dividing my time over these past few weeks. To begin with, I have found myself with more time on my hands and less money in my pocket since losing a substantial chunk of hours work each week. This fact alone has multiple ramifications and not all bad – a couple of my major projects have gathered some momentum which requires more of my time at this stage than money – but as it pertains to my challenge of learning to swim, it means that professional stroke correction classes were off the table.
Now here’s where Bec comes back into it. She is a proficient and experienced swimmer (who also floats like a cork) so when she offered to teach me in lieu of professional lessons, I gratefully accepted. We made a date… but got distracted by crime TV. We made another date… more cop shows. We made a third date… and this time we stuck to it! With our swimsuits tucked into our jeans, we walked from Bec’s place down to the recently and gorgeously renovated Prince Alfred Park Pool. I bought a pair of googles and borrowed a kick board and then it was time to make a splash. Bec talked me through and demonstrated the basics of freestyle breathing, kicking, stroking and then set me on my way to get a feel for it. I had a firm grip on the theory but the practice left much to be desired. I used flippers and a kick board for subsequent laps but was generally appalled by my level of water-fitness. Bec was very encouraging pointing out that it’s just a matter of practice, practice and more practice.
Therein lies my current frustration – finding time, energy and focus to maintain the practice of so many things. Am I really going to make a regular trip to the pools to swim when I haven’t even been getting up to go the gym? Probably not which, without intention, means definitely not. I’m actually OK with that for swimming at least. But not so with bike riding and meditation. My motivation for taking them on as challenges was far more compelling: bike riding promises a level of freedom and independence both at home and in my travels. Meditation promises peace of mind, clarity, focus, better health and so on. So why then, have I failed to maintain either practice? I’ve been to a couple of group-sits and done the occasional half hour here and there but that doesn’t cut it. As for Betty the Bike, she’s back to reading in the library. Without diligence, persistence and patience, these challenges are meaningless.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh on myself and am declaring failure a little prematurely. It has only been a matter of weeks and very full, eventful ones at that. I’ve actually just made a list of things that have happened or that I’ve done since my Vipassana retreat and it would seem I haven’t been anywhere near as idle as I feel I have been. In fact, there’s a few things in there that I hope to look back on one day and recognise as the beginning of something significant. To use a gardening analogy, I’ve been planting seeds so I shouldn’t be disappointed that I’m not yet harvesting crops! Nonetheless, I need to dedicate myself to nurturing these seeds to fruition because no one else can or will.
And so, with that, it’s time to take another deep breath and get back in the swim and rededicate myself to my mission as I must every single day if I’m to create the life of my dreams. Discipline is in the doing and as the quote inscribed on the globe in front of me says “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers but above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”
Coming soon: After everything I’ve just said above, I’m hesitant to set another physical challenge without having mastered the previous ones but I’m still determined to keep up with a challenge a month as a goal in its own right. Perhaps I just need to shift my expectation and view them as a one-off ‘tasters’ to explore and discover what I enjoy but also as an exercise in pushing my boundaries and definition of self. With that in mind, Physical Challenge #4 will be running. The furtherest and longest I have ever run is a kilometre and that was only a few years ago with a trainer beside the treadmill shouting at me. Let’s see if I can outrun my previous personal best!