“You make swimming look effortless,” the lifeguard said, as I lifted my dripping self up onto the pool deck. What a lovely compliment. Did I hear correctly? Removing my earplugs I asked him to repeat, “You make swimming look effortless,” to which I glibly reply, “I suppose that is why I don’t burn more calories.” As though the burning of calories is what matters most!
What matters most is that, having recently celebrated the completion of my seventy-fifth year, I understand myself to be moving forward while dialing down and pacing myself for the long haul. Aspiring to live one hundred years plus, I am very aware I have experienced three quarters of my life. With favorable spirits supporting me, I have one quarter of my life yet to live! I want to swim into and through this coming quarter century as though my living is as effortless as my swimming.
Until I sat in the bleachers and watched young instructors teaching swimming basics to my two small children, I never thought about taking up lap swimming as a way to get exercise along with walking and jogging and practicing yoga. When I heard my son’s and daughter’s teachers repeat again and again, “slow and pretty,” “slow and pretty,” inspiration hit me. I thought, “Oh I can do this! Swimming doesn’t have to be about racing and competing and winning. Swimming can be another excuse to exercise outdoors!”
I added lap swimming to my repertoire of ways to stay fit year round. No matter where I have traveled and lived—Dallas, NYC’s Greenwich Village, upstate Vermont, the remote wilderness of the Ozark highlands and now Carthage—I have managed to find pools and rivers and lakes to do some lapping “slow and pretty” in every season.
As I swim toward my end time, the poetry of “slow and pretty” has become my moving forward mantra, in and out of the water, though in my mind I hear echoing the poetic admonishment of Welshman Dylan Thomas. Passionately beseeching his dying father, he wrote “Do not go gentle into that good night, old age should burn and rave at close of day; rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
For all the days I have remaining before the dying of my light, may “slow and pretty” be my poetic burn, my poetic rave, my poetic rage as I swim more laps, love more life and make more art of this poetry we call living!
Throughout the Hyde House galleries the visual poetry of VERDANT continues on view through March 12, 2022, at 1110 East Thirteenth Street in Carthage. Weekend Gallery Hours are Fridays and Saturdays, 12:00-5:00 p.m., with members of artCentral’s Board of Directors and JRAC serving as gallery docents to greet you.
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