bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back
66 degrees (there) / 71 (back)
9:00 am / 11:15 am
A little crazy on the trail today. So many reckless bikers going too fast and not warning me they were coming. A mini peloton of male bikers — all decked out in their kits — zoomed past me on a curve at the top of the hill and I yelled out, Thanks for letting me know you were coming! Ah, so passive agressive of me. I stewed about it for a few minutes, thinking about how I wish I would have said something more direct, or how I wished people didn’t act like aggressive jerks so often, but then decided I wanted to enjoy this ride. So I started reciting Emily Dickinson — out loud! It’s all I have to bring today –/This, and my heart beside Over and over again. It worked! As I rounded the curve and neared the big beach at Lake Nokomis 10 minutes later, I thought about how grateful I am for every single bike ride I can still do. Maybe my brain and I will figure out how to keep me biking even when my central vision is gone, and maybe not. But this morning, I could bike by myself and I didn’t feel scared or (too) disoriented. And that ride took me to the lake. What a gift!
swim: 4 loops!
lake nokomis open swim
A little chilly. Lots of sun. A great swim. The first time this season that I’ve swam 4 loops. And I didn’t stop — well, I treaded water for a few seconds as I adjusted my too-tight goggles, but I never went back to stand near the shore. 4 straight loops in 75 minutes. Amazing. During the final loop, I felt warmed up and in that flow state. Tired, too. I’d like to get up to 5 or 6 loops, but I’m glad I didn’t do that today.
Image of the swim: Swimming towards the big beach, into the sun, I noticed spots of shimmering water ahead of me. I followed them towards the opposite shore. Then I realized: the shimmer was where there was a swimmer! Their disruption of the water with their strokes was causing the light to dance on the ripples. So cool! It was beautiful to see, and to think about each of us, out there on the lake, shimmering and shining and emitting a guiding light for each other. Even as I get irritated with some swimmers or bikers, I want to remember this image of each of us as a shimmering light dancing on the surface.
And here’s an interview I found the other day that I wanted to remember for the future:
For the most part, I try to hold off on the “about” part for as long as I can. Attending to syntax and stanza form is one of the ways I try to do that. No one needs to hear me ruminate (or worse, hold forth) on something I already think I know. In one of her very early poems, Brenda Hillman wrote something like “the jetty of my ignorance” (I’m sure I’m getting that wrong: I seem to remember a walkway of some sort and a large body of water). Jetty, or footbridge, or causeway, the point is this: a certain kind of ignorance is good, even necessary, for the making of a poem. I’m not talking about willful mystification or atmospherics, God forbid, but rather about the momentum of good-faith wanting-to-discover-something. Deferring the “about” part is rather like deferring the main clause of a sentence: it stores up energy.
All of us carry around enormous repositories of grief and longing and wonder and memory, and these will always make their way into poems. Frontal attack, I’ve found, is rarely the way to unlock them.
“the momentum of good faith wanting-to-discover-something”
“Deferring the “about” part is rather like deferring the main clause of a sentence: it stores up energy.”
“Frontal attack is rarely the way to unlock them [grief,longing,wonder, memory].”
…the most profound and durable source of wonder for me is my “thrownness” into the biological world. I am perpetually astonished by the mystery of living in a body that, whatever its limitations, is so much smarter than I am. A body that handles more things, is infinitely more complex than what I think of as my “self,” a body that does things I could not possibly do on purpose, and which I inhabit as a kind of guest.
“the mystery of living in a body that is so much smarter than I am.”
“infinitely more complex than what I think of as my ‘self’…”
I don’t think poetry is antithetical to reasoned thought. But I do think the experience of standing before the world in wonder and wanting to come to what mindfulness we can is a very important stance. In my experience, it’s our common stance, common to poets and scientists alike.
I have been the beneficiary of instruction, or let’s just call it patient explanation, from people who are exquisitely trained in neurophysiological research, my late sister chief among them. The magic of that research is the combination of aptitudes it requires: capacities for abstract inquiry, tolerance of provisional thinking, and a daunting array of practical skills. The scientist needs to posit a hypothesis in order to formulate her question, and then to design an experiment that might help her refine the question, and she has to be prepared to jettison that hypothesis if her experimental results tell her it’s insufficient. You have to be invested in order to pursue the question, in other words, but you also have to be prepared to be corrected. I think that’s also a moral stance. You can’t be not-committed, you must be strongly committed and yet prepared to be corrected.
“you must be strongly committed and yet prepared to be corrected.”
Finally, here’s a great poem I found yesterday. Check out the note under the title. Poetry was an Olympic event? Nice.
—Poetry was an Olympic event from 1912-1948.
Think of the records you have held:
For one second, you were the world’s youngest person.
It was a long time ago, but still.
At this moment, you are living
In the farthest thousandth-of-a-second in the history of time.
You have beaten yesterday’s record, again.
You were perhaps the only participant,
But in the race to get from your bedroom to the bathroom,
You win so much, all the time in all things.
Your heart simply beats and beats and beats—
It does not lose, although perhaps one day.
Nevertheless, the lists of firsts for you is endless—
Doing what you have not done before,
Tasting sake and mole, smelling bergamot, hearing
Less well than you used to—
Not all records are for the scrapbook, of course—
Sometimes you are the best at being the worst.
Some records are secret—you know which ones.
Some records you’re not even aware of.
In general, however, at the end of a long day, you are—
Unlikely as it may seem—the record holder of note.