Summer Weather, Swimming and Dreaming at Walden Pond.


Last night I dreamt about my physical therapist.

Why are you telling me this, you ask?

With the weather suddenly launching Boston into summer this week; yesterday we registered the new record highest temperature of 95 degrees F for May, I have begun to swim in earnest. That means no more “in and outs” in only my bathing suit. No more “ten minute getting acclimatized to swimming again” the only protective neoprene being my bathing cap and gloves, which too large and full of the too cold water for this time of year swell and almost float off the ends of my hands…

Yesterday I did my first “real swim.” Making it down the length of the pond from the main beach, past Red Cross Beach and Sandy Point to where the wind which had been buffeting waves at my head for the first two thirds of the swim suddenly dropped and the water flattened. I could run my eye along its surface and watch the sun-like-twinkling-stars dance as I heaved and pulled my aching shoulder over and under my body… I knew I was moving forward only because the sky, an uninterrupted rich blue arced overhead and the two toned forest green which ran along the shore line left its trail on both sides of me as I edged my way onward. Then there was that welcome patch of warmer water as I neared the far end of the pond, and the con commit cold that I gritted my teeth against as I churned my arms harder to escape after I turned and moved away from the distant shore.

And the swim back.

Did I overdo it? That first swim? Heaving and pulling for over thirty minutes without a rest.

I have not seen my physical therapist since January.

Last year I spent the entire summer going to PT for my shoulder injury. For months I did this exercise and that. And then in January I got lazy, and I got discharged from PT. I knew what I should be doing so it was really up to me. But I wasn’t swimming so I wasn’t motivated. And maybe the childish part of me was rebelling because I still feel the memory of being chided for not doing my exercises. “That’s what happens in PT. If you don’t do your exercises, you get discharged,” the chiropractor I saw earlier this year told me when I relayed the story to him.

So now, back in the pond I remember my PT, enough that she visits me in my dreams. But she did not come in my dream to massage my aching muscles. She did not come to stretch out the tight bands of connective tissue in my upper arm. She presented me with a self evaluation and left me alone in a room to fill it out.

So I ask you now … What is the message there?



Perspectives on Weather, Lethargy and Lungs

I used to swim, no matter what the weather forecast said. Perhaps not in thunder, but under the grey blankets that rolled out across the sky covering the dome of Walden. Watching for silver light spasming the seams.
But yesterday the sneaking cool that snuck around the curves of my shoulders raising the hairs as they stood guard over my skin, whispered lethargy into me. And the thunder from above voiced its agreement, punctuated by lights which panned the bitumen. I did not make it across the car park before I decided to get back in my car and drive home.

Am I getting older? I asked myself. Am I getting tireder, more fearful, more apathetic?

I know the answer to most of these questions. But it worries me, the fact I am losing grip on what I used to know and succumbing to the ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude.

Today, all morning, I have watched the roof top below my window from the inside of Childrens Hospital. The puddled black asphalt splintered with spears of water dropping from somewhere above where I know the sky must hide. It is both too far up and too small an opening in the life I am living at present to know where.
I thought of Walden. The warm water. I watched my daughter sleep a mask covering her face, just as a swim mask might, but instead it helps her lungs do what my swimmer lungs do every stroke I take. Expand, release.
When I swim, I often think of her. The difficulty she expanding her lungs to hold enough oxygen. I know that feeling. When I am rushing across the pond to get back to her sooner, feeling the skin over my ribs about to snap as I reach into the cracks of them looking for space to fill with more breath.
But when I feel that, a wave like a tsunami pushes up my trachea and out my mouth and escapes in bubbles into Walden and into Walden air.
When my daughter feels it, it is because she is gagging and coughing up, sitting bent over in a hospital bed.

And when I remember how fortunate I am, I overcome my lethargy and plunge into Walden. Grateful I have the lungs to swim across the pond.