Can I do this?
I can do this.
It’s only two laps to begin. Just two. To the other end and back. 50 yards. To begin. Beginning. Push off. Hold fast. Suspended along a longitudinal axis. Very still. Symmetrical. Relax into it. Poised. All grace.
I can do this.
Arms up and around. How does this not hurt? I’m not sure. Together. One motion, simultaneously. Marry them to the moment. Soft hand entry. Don’t push down. Gently. And pull back. Evenly. Together. One motion.
Just add four laps to that now. Just another 100 yards. To continue. It feels hard. It feels tired. So soon? Don’t force yourself through the water. Don’t force yourself through. Remember? Remember, I can do this. It’s swimming. It’s not hard.
Relax. Don’t push, don’t pull. Anchor your arms and bring yourself forward past them. Don’t let yourself sink. Easier? Yes. Much.
Now do six. Just another 150 yards. You know… you will go forward, if you just keep going.
There it is. The land of no thought. A drifting mind, a perpetually moving body, intent upon forever. I can keep this up. I can keep going. This is the happiest place. I know it now: I know I can do this. There is only the water. And me; a living sound. There is only forever.
Eight. Add eight to the ones you’ve already done.
Oh… but, will the sea permit me through? Will she let me swim like this? With my face forward? Waves? Wind? How will I breathe? And there’s that extra breath that you always get at the turn in the pool. I will have to get used to that not being there in the open water. You did it with Freestyle, before flip turns. I will have to ask the sea the next time I visit. I will have to see what she says about breathing…
Such a fluid motion, head to toe. Using your entire being, as one unit, to propel you. Balanced. Strong. A perfect line. Like a Ballet. Grace. Poise. My body begins to forget that it has been swimming. Every muscle hums warm. I am, simply, floating. Floating forward. Flying. My body suspended beneath my arms. Flying.
I can feel my sides begin to pulse. As if I have been laughing for a long, long time. It makes me laugh to think of it so and the bubbles dance around me. Who knew that giggling was such good training? I will have to do more of that.
Now add Fourteen on top of all of that.
Fourteen. I can do that. Fourteen. Forever. They are the same and not. Once you begin, you can keep going. You can keep going, if you begin. I can do this. How do these shoulders move so freely? How do they do that? What a masterpiece of engineering! It doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t even hurt. Just warm. Just strong. Balanced.
Sweet Sixteen. How lovely! My butterfly stroke is a teenager! How fast they grow up. It seems only half an hour ago we were beginning. Beginning. With the terrible twos. Look at that! I can do this! I can.
Two hands. Doing the same thing. At the same time. Touching the wall. Forever is over. Let’s not get crazy, or anything. Don’t hurt yourself. Eighteen hundred yards. Of Butterfly. Hmmm… maybe it’s too late for crazy.
I remember this. I remember this feeling. Before I knew about speed or nutrition or Masters or did flipturns or even considered trying to swim Butterfly again. I remember. Just being in love with distance. Just being taken by the possibility of the dream of swimming forever. I remember the challenge. It wasn’t effortless. Goodness knows the stroke wasn’t flawless! It’s a love and a passion and a dream that catches you – a question you wake up wondering and hope of never answering for all your trying.
How far can I go?
And, fingertips reaching toward forever, we simply begin. Once you begin, you can keep going.
You can keep going, if you begin.