july 17/SWIM

3 loops
lake nokomis open swim
80 degrees / calm water
9:30 am

What a wonderful morning for a swim! Sunny. Warm and calm water. Strong shoulders. It felt so good to be moving through the water! Fast and strong, straight to the buoys. As I neared them, and could finally see them, I wished that I could draw or sketch or do something to recreate the image I see when I’m in the water. How different is it from someone who can see “normally”? At first, there’s nothing. Then, occasionally, the absence of something, a hulking nothing where there should be something. Then, the idea — I can’t see the buoy but I feel like it’s right there. Then, a flash. A brief flicker of orange or triangle or buoy. Finally, when I’m close (20 feet?): a buoy.

As I twisted my head out of the water to breathe, I looked up and thought: cloud. 12345 breathe left: cloud. 12345 breathe right: glaring sun and cloud. I started thinking about how I like that as I exert myself, either in the water or on land, I have more difficulty over-thinking things, which is something I do too much of. No time and no energy to think too much. I’ve written before about overthinking. I decided to look it up, and found this helpful article/thing I wrote on march 20, 2018:

“A few days ago, I stumbled upon a brief essay about running and how it differs from walking:

But the act of running gives me something I cannot get from a walk, and that is total mental freedom. I agree with Kierkegaard that walking is objectively better than sitting, in terms of feeling good. But it is not always sufficient. And although the day-to-day business of writing is closely connected to walking, the business of being a functioning person – for me – requires something else. Running demands that you concentrate on something which requires almost no conscious thought at all. It is a particular kind of thinking which is all about the next few seconds and entirely pragmatic: mind that low-hanging branch, is that dog on an extendable lead, am I about to get mugged by a flock of Canada geese (the nightclub bouncers of the bird world). It also proves that you are more, or at least other, than you think.

Stepping Up to the Page / Natalie Haynes

I like her idea of running as offering a particular kind of thinking and I agree that much of running time is taken up with mundane, immediate thoughts about branches or cracks in the pavement or how deep a puddle is, whether or not the runner I’m approaching will move over, etc.. But, what I also like about running is that flashes of insight happen too–I have really great thoughts. Because of the effort I’m making and my need to pay attention to my surroundings, I can’t ruminate slowly and obsessively about those thoughts. The best I can do is try to record them in a voice memo or write them in a log entry after I’m done. Why is this a good thing? I’m not sure that I can express it right now–maybe something about a need to correct my tendency to overthink things or my love of imposing limits on my creative process?”


Don’t you wish they would stop, all the thoughts
swirling around in your head, bees in a hive, dancers
tapping their way across the stage? I should rake the leaves
in the carport, buy Christmas lights. Was there really life on Mars?
What will I cook for dinner? I walk up the driveway,
put out the garbage bins. I should stop using plastic bags,
visit my friend whose husband just left her for the Swedish nanny.
I wish I hadn’t said Patrick’s painting looked “ominous.”
Maybe that’s why he hasn’t called. Does the car need oil again?
There’s a hole in the ozone the size of Texas and everything
seems to be speeding up. Come, let’s stand by the window
and look out at the light on the field. Let’s watch how the clouds
cover the sun and almost nothing stirs in the grass.