I spend so much time in the pool that this seems the right place for me to begin these entries. I really have no idea what a "blog" is; I never imagined I would write one. (The internet is filled with junk; why should I add more?) Perhaps this will explain why I've decided to begin.
I swim a mile a day. Though I swam growing up in California, I was never serious about it. I was certainly no athlete (though I wish I had been). About 2007, somehow I felt I should start swimming to keep from going downhill even faster.
At first, ten laps would exhaust me. I dreaded the effort; mere stubbornness (will power seems too dignified a word) kept me going. It took months before I could complete the thirty-six laps that make a mile. I kept dragging myself to the pool. Yet at some point it started to get easier. I noticed that, about midway through the mile, I found myself in a peculiar yet pleasantly drugged state.
Swimming is a dreamy activity; your breathing is regulated by the stroke, most of the time you are gazing into a silent blue world. You are living and moving at the interface where water meets air. I found myself moving through a waking dream. I read that lap swimming generates many endorphins, pseudo-opiates and pseudo-cannabinoids. The dreamy, zoned-out state was a drug high, self-induced and legal. In any case, I was hooked.
About midafternoon I start to feel restless: time to swim. Usually I bike to the public pool; the biking too (like so much in my life) has become a habit, an almost obsessive pleasure. The Salvador Perez Pool in Santa Fe is my familiar second world, whose inhabitants know me well and share my habits: Frank, the friendly man at the desk; Tetsuji, no less obsessed a swimmer than I. I scarcely notice the transition in temperature from air to water. People often tell me how boring it must be to swim laps, but in fact it takes all the attention I have to keep my strokes in order or try to improve them a bit. And when they settle down, the dreamtime begins.
I don't think I have any talent for meditation, but this is close. All kinds of feelings bubble through me, possessing me for a while but then subsiding mysteriously. And ideas come. About a year ago in the Fort Marcy pool, I realized how to solve a problem with some chapters in my latest book. And yesterday at Perez I began to feel, in that dreamy yet insistent way, that I should start this blog.
January 3, 2015