Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Artist's Date {week 3}

Several weeks ago I wrote about swimming and, ever since, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. It wasn't long after this that I began the Finding Water journey and not long after that, that I came across this photo in a magazine. I bought it on impulse because it contained an "Insider's Guide to India" (not that I would ever be able to afford a spa anywhere--even in India). Although the India spas looked wonderful, it was an image of the Greek Isles that caught my attention and has nestled itself in my mind ever since I first laid eyes on it. It's not even the sort of image that I am normally attracted to. Being less than thin myself, I tend to steer clear of images that make me feel even bigger than I already see myself as. But when I saw this photo (by Frederic Vasseur) I immediately found myself wishing that I could be the woman in the photograph. I looked at all that shimmery blue-on-top-of-blue and felt a profound sense of healing.

Since I probably won't be traveling to Greece anytime soon, I decided instead to seek out a slightly altered version of water in this frozen city of Minneapolis. I've been wanting to do this forever and tonight I finally did it: I went to the Jewish Community Center and went swimming. And, well, it was as wonderful as I had hoped it would be.

I chose to do this today because it has been an especially bad day filled with just way too much self-doubt and double guessing--two things that I am getting much too good at. Because the work on my project has not been coming easily to me, I was starting to believe (wanting to believe) that the act of swimming could somehow unlock the words that have been struggling to find their way to the page.

Instead, what I found out was that swimming can be just as hard as anything else. It can even be as difficult as writing if I wanted to make it that way. The knee that's been bothering me hurt at first. So I floated on my back. Then I held my breath and swam underwater. I got water up my nose (a few times). I did slow laps doing the side-stroke. I attempted to touch the bottom of the pool at the deep end. Most of all, I tried to let go of everything that was bothering me and just swim. Of course, things like getting water up my nose made it hard to attain complete transcendence...but it was a start.

As I swam I began to realize that nothing comes for free. There was a part of me that hoped that by going swimming (even just once in a pool at a community center) the words would start to flow a little bit easier. Before getting out, I took extra time to just float on my back and relax. Maybe I should have floated longer. Afterwards I sat in the blue tiled hot tub with water that was almost the exact same color as the photograph that inspired me to seek water in the first place. Then I took a steam bath--something I've never done before and, oh, it was a 107 degrees of steamy heaven.

In the end, none of my problems have magically disappeared. The challenges that I set aside for a few hours tonight, will again be waiting for me tomorrow. Writing is a challenge, but like swimming, the more I trust myself, the easier it is. And so I've decided that maybe I'll go swimming more often...because learning how to let go doesn't happen over night.
"Swimmers know that if they relax on the water it will prove to be miraculously buoyant; and writers know that a succession of little strokes on the material nearest them--without any prejudgments about the specific gravity of the topic or the reasonableness of their expectations--will result in creative progress." ~William Stafford, from Writing the Australian Crawl.

16 comments:

dancing willow* said...

Wow, I'm first! Oh, I'm so glad you went swimming ... It sounds wonderful. And yes, the more we learn to trust, the less things seem to be so damn big.

I'm off to face one of my fears: looking at myself naked. Time for a real-live photo shoot. Ack!

Leah said...

so glad you went swimming! that's truly awesome. it sounds lovely, floating. (((hugs)))

Amber said...

Boy, is that the truth! I have been learning to let go for about 20 years now. ;)

I always get something out of swimming. I find ot sort of meditating. Just sitting by water is healing to me. I need to be near it.

:)

Sophie said...

"learning how to let go"

resonated with me -

I love swimming ( i am a water sign)

and you have twigged me -

i need to go swimming!

Mardougrrl said...

It's been so long since I allowed myself to go swimming...and I used to live in California...with a POOL! I think I decided I was too fat or something.

This was a wonderful post. I resonate with you and your journey so much, dearie. We're travelling on this path, together.

bella said...

Awesome Jess! I loved this idea as an artist date.
I would assume that using your muscles to stay afloat is not easy - just like letting go. I hope for you that your journey and your days get lighter. (And if I won the lottery, we'd be on the first plane to Greece for some much needed R&R).

bella said...

I just re-read your post.. not sure if this was your artist date as I stated, but it sounds like a cool one if it was.

Jessie said...

bella, yep it was an artist's date. thank you for your comment. and if you ever win the lottery, i'll be holding your to your offer! :)

bee said...

does it surprise you that we are on the same wave length? (groan...pun not intended...)

i miss you. until i get a chance to touch base, please keep in mind your goddessness. okay?

Elizabeth said...

Thaks for sharing this... the swimming sounds lovely, the hot tub and steam room divine! I think your post is going to inspire me to go....

Well done for a great date! E

Elizabeth said...

P.S. I've avoided going swimming because I feel too fat ... but I shall stop letting my weight come between me and a good swim.

z said...

swimming means serveral things. a cleansing, and meditative and also a journey. you found all three. so it was what you were looking for.

Kristine said...

I hope all is well. I too have been doing far too much second guessing... We need to let that go.

Anonymous said...

You should try open-water, freestyle swimming in Lake Superior with a wetsuit sometime...maybe you have...anyway, what a sensation. It's like swimming in cold, deep space. The water so clear...crepuscular-like rays from the sun illuminating the darkest crevices. I don't think I've ever felt so alone. On second thought, maybe it would be best if you just took my word for it, ho ho!

Jeppe

Gemma said...

Great..... you followed your heart and went swimming...now thats being true to yourself!

The Dream said...

Jessie, you mermaid! I LOVE reading your words. I can't wait to swim again ... but for now, I'll just settle for a nice steamy bath. Greece - now THAT is on my short list of places I want to visit. If Bella wins the lottery, I'm tagging along!