You’re sending smoke signals

I swam three more miles this week than I did last week, and walked home from the pool through a light drizzle, singing to myself in a husky, breathless voice. Now, hair sleek with water, my mind is still full of swimming. Usually the time I spend in the pool is quiet and contemplative, my mind full only of vague ideas of numbers as I count my laps. It’s the way I feel when I’m playing a familiar piano piece with my eyes closed, or when I’m walking around this neighborhood where I grew up. Today something was different, though, my mind restless, gasping for breath even as my body did the same. I lost track of my count a few times, random things going through my head. I hear phantom Metro noises (it seems like I spend half my life on the Metro, these days). I mull over a tricky problem from work. But I spend the most time thinking about a Radiolab spot I listened to recently, about a woman who had to have part of her temporal lobe removed. Having lost her sense of the passing of time, she became an ultramarathoner. Because she didn’t know when she should be tired, she said, she just kept going. I feel something similar going on when I swim: after the first few laps, they all sort of feel the same. I don’t get tired; if I pause for a few seconds, I get a rush of strength. I’ll tell myself I’ll swim half a mile; after half a mile, I’ll up it to three-quarters. At a mile, I stop, because that’s how far I swim. It makes me wonder how far I would go if I just kept swimming until I stopped.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>