Thursday, October 06, 2011

Best Day Ever

September 11, 2011. Maybe because I remembered where I was 10yrs earlier, how horribly that day was, I knew this day was destined to be the opposite; to be great. The weather was beautiful. The previous 6 or 7 weeks I had been tense and borderline miserable. Work was a strain as I had been "reorganized" for the third time in 18mos. We didn't have a kitchen because it was still being remodeled. Dishes were still done in the downstairs bathroom. Money of course seemed like it was flying out the door (see "kitchen"). And I hadn't worked out in what seemed like forever. Most notably I had not gone for a swim in the ocean since August 9th.

I've never deemed myself much if a swimmer. It was always a complimentary activity, something done when I had too like preparing for a race. So I never really considered how much I might miss it. On Saturday as I was leaving with Dylan to go to his soccer game, I got an offer to do the run leg as part of a relay at the FIRM Man 1/2 Iron triathlon. Sure! I was excited to do something competitive again. Yes it would be well below my best times due to a lack of fitness, but I suspected I could do something reasonable. But I wrote down the wrong phone number to confirm my interest. When I finally got home and corrected my mistake, the team, having not heard from me, got another runner. So it was that I had no option but to join the 1st to 2nd beach swim on Sunday if indeed I wanted to workout with others.

I was a bit intimidated by the thought. The others had continued to swim while I had my layoff. The ocean around us gets a bit "hungrier" as the fall closes in. I was unsure of my current ability to manage big water. I reassured myself that despite my lack of form relative to earlier in the year, I had now done this swim enough that I could at least survive it. And survive it I did! About 1/2 way through the water got very "confused" and I struggled. It was not pretty. You can't "fake" it in those conditions. But when at last I dragged myself up on 2nd beach I felt exhausted and ... transformed.

As people our "higher" brain functions may allow us to think of, and do, incredible or as we saw 10yrs ago and really see every day, terrible things. And yet it seems the farther we allow ourselves to journey along the paths that our higher functions create, the farther we journey away from our humanity. Survival situations push us back towards our instinctual roots. Closer to our humanity. When I emerged from the water I once again felt "human." After the swim we were invited to share coffee and pastries by a wonderful person at a house overlooking the wild waters we had just swum. The view was magnificent, but it was sharing that moment with the people, my fellow swimmers, that was perfect. I'm not sure if anyone noticed, but as I left to return home I very nearly cried.

And the day was not even over. In fact it had just begun. Alexandra has been a bike riding fiend for a while now, and her younger brother has been wanting desperately to catch up. Well it was Alexandra who asked if we could take the bikes to the fields near the track at Gaudet Middle school so they could ride and Dylan could practice w/o training wheels. After a few false starts and some nerves, he was up and going. Wobbly for a bit, when he went behind the "shed" at the field, like a ship passing behind the moon, you held your breath waiting for him to emerge...and he did. My buddy was a two-wheeler.

Best day ever.