The first 500 yards were wonderful. My body warmed up from yoga class, I eased into the pool for an easy cross-training swim. Unconcerned about time or turnover, I glided through the water, pushing off every 25 yards and wonderfully losing the chitter-chatter of my mind in the sensory depravation.
And then I started drifting. The fantastic easy feeling had left. I was swerving all across the lane. I hit the lane line. Hell, I started to drift under the lane line and into the other lane. It had been years since I found it this difficult to swim in a straight line. (In a pool, that is. All bets are off in open water.) But before I could chastise myself, before I could wallow and follow a downward spiral of negative thinking … I laughed. As I exhaled underwater, my mouth was in a broad smile. In the moment, I chose to laugh at myself, because I knew I looked like a drunk swimmer and I knew that it really was insanely ridiculous.
I stopped at the end of the lane only to realize the master’s swim coach was standing on the pool deck preparing for his own workout with another quality swimmer. They stifled laughter as they asked me, “How did that feel?” Confession: I was slightly embarrassed. But it is what it is. “I know right?” I replied. “What was that? Time for the pull buoy.”
I grabbed my pink and white stripped pull buoy and took off another lap. It took me two laps to straighten out my lane meanderings, but eventually I did. And then I polished off a 200 without the pull buoy to end my workout.
Here’s the thing I noticed: Things sometimes go awry. Ridiculously so at times. In ways which make me wonder if I’ve regressed or should give up on a particular goal or dream or activity all together. But if instead of following those negative thoughts I take a moment to laugh at myself, I find it rather easy to self-assess and self-correct. In the pool this morning, with the help of the pull buoy I stopped over-rotating and focused on my stroke to return to the smooth glide I enjoyed at the start.
Same thing for pretty much any other project for which I attach meaning to the momentary loss of direction or enthusiasm. When staring at the big picture makes me dizzy, concentrating on the small details right in front of me, on what my next immediate step is, moves me out of my funk and closer to my goal. And more importantly, it brings joy back into the process, which is where all the magic really resides.