I was raised by a grandmother who believed you should put your heart in the moment. She never looked back or too far forward and it drove me crazy. Why? Because her complacency appeared to me as a total lack of ambition. I had plans. She just smiled with a deep sense of inner peace that completely eluded me. Still does.*
Now every day I swim 1/2 mile in a usually too cold, chlorine filled, cement pool. Back & forth, back & forth. 16 back and forths every day. Yes, EVERY day. No, I don’t particularly enjoy swimming, but my knees are too shot to run & it keeps the arthritis at bay. I detest the too tight cap that rips my hair every time I pull it on and off. Absolutely loathe the goggles that leave round, racoon marks around my eyes for hours afterwards. In fact, I truly hate every single agonizing stroke. What’s even more ridiculous is that even though I KNOW I am going to swim every morning –I delay getting there as long as possible. Yesterday, for example, I actually pulled the whole dryer out just to clean lint from behind it. Fortunately, I hadn’t done it in a while and managed a full 1/2 hour delay. Anything to keep from getting to that swim. But when it’s over I’m a new person & fairly bubble with joy as I float out the YMCA door.
Today, there was a little boy in the lane next to me. He was merely paddling a bit and then floating on a styrofoam noodle while he stared out the window. I huffed and puffed past him several times. ‘Just wait ’till he’s older,’ I thought to myself. ‘He’ll be trying to stay in shape and huffing and puffing, too.’ I did the backstroke and the butterfly but the waves I created didn’t seem to disturb the simple joy he seemed to find in just floating. Finally I stopped. “No school today, huh?” I asked him. “Nope,” he said with a smile. “How old are you?” I continued. “Six,” he replied. “Oh,” I said slightly surprised, “I figured you were at least seven.” He looked straight at me with his gentle, blue eyes. “Well,” he paused, “I WILL be seven on Saturday.” He seemed mystified that I had guessed so closely. “You mean to tell me that in two days you will be seven? Most kids would say, ‘I’m almost seven.’ He just smiled, looked back out the window and replied, “Well, right now I’m just happy being six.” For a moment, I saw my grandmother. (* Excerpt from “Kissing Tomatoes,” http://www.helen-hudson.com)