A few days ago I swam SOLO around the perimeter – using mostly my trademark stroke, backerfly – of the Bel Marin Keyes main southern lagoon in 48 minutes. Not a long swim at at just about a mile, but I’d never swum it solo, never under ~1.5 hours, and never even felt the confidence to attempt it on my own. It was a quiet afternoon on the water without a powerboat in sight, so the lagoon was ours.
My mom came with me that day to do her own swim and I was planning some back-and-forths but before I knew it, I was tracking buoys and was suddenly halfway around. Last summer and fall I did many swims there, but only a couple times did I make the whole loop. I completely surprised myself.
This is just one of the boosts from my recent trip to Hawaii.
It’s in the ocean that I really learned to feel at home in my own body again.
It’s also where I can give myself a really kickass, full-body, outdoors, sun-burning workout. The kind I grew up with.
I call those workouts “trial by water,” as opposed to the intentional, measured, and far less chaotic movements of Pilates.
I’ve compared it to dancing: when the same movement intention is embodied by both client and trainer, there is a special resonance that develops. He or she is focusing on feeling the very same body connections as I am, and this energetic exchange is palpable. Often it means we move in tandem, because that’s an efficient way to understand kinesthetically what I’m feeling in the moment and where the path toward more complete body-functioning might be blocked. When it comes to paralysis recovery, I think this intuitive sense is what separates a generally-attuned therapist from a true facilitator of reconnection.
Diego and I found some of that resonance. We focused in the beginning on the basics: shoulder stability and rib control – after all, one never truly gets beyond them – and by the end were working to integrate that shoulder connection with the type of exercises I do at home. While my work with movement experts is essential for learning, home is where I spend most of my therapy time: by myself, usually on the floor in front of my springboard. It could be a bit discouraging to think that a full two years ago, after my first trip to Hawaii and my introduction to Pilates, I was also working on shoulder stability, but that would be ignoring the progress I’ve made since.
Connection comes in any form but a linear path, and it’s important for me to remember that it’s okay to cycle back. The ‘ego’ part is easy to get over when I focus on the fact that without revisiting the basic skills, I would be denying the process itself as it unfolds.
One result of that process came in the form of standing stability after swimming. It’s amazing how ‘connected’ I feel after time in open water, both in Hawaii and back in California...the question is, of course, how do I find this without having to swim?
A send-off only Nature could provide...