Of all the people you might have chosen, I will never understand why you picked me. But I think you got a good deal.
Every time you spoke, I took your words. I took them all for myself. They are the words that you chose, after all. Because they probably worked for you. Or you are hopeful they will work for me. They have a shape and a color and command. The tone is as much a part of the meaning as anything else. Pictures, feelings, sensations, impressions; these strange symbols strung together in sentences barely do the water justice.
I took them and I kept them. I mulled them around in my head. Poked them, prodded them, investigated, categorized, and filed them. Not too deep, though. Right in the forefront of my awareness is where I kept them. I pondered them and studied them, there, returning to them throughout the day, whenever I had the chance.
I kept them and then I made them my own. I dressed them with my own spin and tone and experiences and impressions. Sometimes, to their detriment. Sometimes, for my own benefit. Sometimes neither and sometimes both.
I used all those words you spoke. I let them shape and change my swimming. 25 yards at a time. One word at a time. Until I could feel the difference. Until I could see the difference. Until I could hold the success for longer than a fleeting moment.
25 yards at a time. One word at a time.
For now, I will work on this. This and this only. I will worry about speed later. For now, I must master this. This thought. This idea. This concept. This impression. How many words did you use to describe it? So few, it seems, for all the complexity of the action of swimming.
It’s swimming. How many muscles does it use? How many systems in your body? How many nerves? How many heartbeats and breaths? How many bones and tendons and sinews? How many cells moving together in concert? How much? How many? It is our intent to convey concepts to a mind about how to conduct a massive network of living energy so that it can effectively, efficiently, and quickly make it through a body of water.
And we use words. I used them, those words, to get to the other end of that pool. So many times, the words were lost in translation between you and me and me and the water! I never said it right the first time. Her resistance and reluctance and acceptance and disturbance and turbulence in each response to me let me know my success and failure.
And now, here are all the words you’ve said to me. You can see them! Even the ones you didn’t use to direct or command have become a living reality. I guess they aren’t just words any more, now, are they? They have made the journey from words and directives to blueprints to exercises and guesstimates to practices to incorporated parts of a swimmer’s stroke.
Isn’t this grand? So much improvement! So many steps forward! In technique and speed and in everything! All those words, they changed the way I talk to the water. A longer, easier, faster, sweeter conversation. I can, in fact, get to the other side of Tampa Bay or across Lake Memphremagog or to France.
Because you said.