Swimming & Writing

by Pari Noskin Taichert

A few weeks ago, I started swimming. This wasn’t the hold-your-breath, touch-the-bottom variety of nautical experience. Oh, no. I started swimming laps. Back and forth, back and forth.

After a particularly bad struggle — this exerecise takes an entirely different skill set and endurance than Tae Kwon Do — I lazed at the end of my lane, huffing and watching the woman with whom I then shared the liquid world.

Her strong stroke cut through the water like a knife through mango mousse — effortless and unexpected. The water parted with nary a splash. No labored breathing accompanied her slight raising of head.

When she stopped next to me, I commented on her glorious free-style. A large smile met my praise and she told me she’d once been an instructor. Her eyes flushed with wistfulness and she turned toward her whining young son.

Ah,that explained a lot.

Then, she generously gave me a few pointers. While she spoke, her hyperactive offspring became more and more jealous of his mother’s attention. Finally, she acquiesced. But not before imparting one last gem.

“You know how everyone tells you not to fight the water? Well, I’ve gotten to the point where I let the water not fight me.” With that, she grabbed the ledge and hoisted herself out of the pool.

I picked up my kickboard and began yet another multi-yard trek, trying to be so comfortable in the water that I felt one with it, trying to let go enough not to demand.

And, I thought about writing.

On this lovely Monday in August, I’m feeling good. I’ve made great progress on both drafts of both books. I’ve been striving to sit everyday at the computer in spite of kid’s swimming lessons, teams, dozens of interruptions and all the disturbances that face any parent in the summer. An interesting thing has happened. Though I’m prepared to struggle, to sidekick my creativity into action, I don’t have to. The process is becoming easier without my deliberate intercession.

I like the image of letting my writing not fight me, of being so comfortable with it that we become one. It’s not as easy when you’re jarred out of the “trance” by phones ringing, kids wanting breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks, brushing and braiding hair, watering the garden, cleaning the house, living life . . . but it’s possible in moments.

Moments of sheer bliss.

Can anyone else relate? Have you gotten lost in your work? Have you let it not fight you?