When we moved to St Catharine’s it was the seventh house we would have lived it. But this one was different in that out the back was a beautiful swimming pool. I had never owned a house with a pool before. So my first reaction was, oh boy, that’s gonna be a lot of extra work.
As it turned out, it was a lot of extra work. But as I figured out how to take care of the pool and keep it clean, that work took on a sort of zen-like quality. After you get the pool up and running, mostly what you are doing is dropping a machine into it to clean up all the stuff that sinks to the bottom, and a good size net to take things off the top, mostly just twigs and leaves.
The act of doing that, as it turned out, puts you into a sort of zone where you are doing something with a smooth rhythm to it. This frees your mind to wander and because you’re staring at the water all the time you’re doing it, you find your mind drifting all over the place. It’s quite a magical thing.
Once the pool is clean and you actually get in the water, it becomes a magic place of a different kind. You start to swim and your mind wanders in a different direction again. After the first year, I was up to swimming about 100 lengths a day in the pool, and never really feeling beat after I was done. It’s a weird thing.
But I did a lot of thinking while I was swimming, and when I finished I would sit down at the computer and stuff just came pouring out. A scene for some screenplay I was writing, a poem. a lyric, a blog post, a short story, whatever I was getting paid to write. It was all over the place and it was exhilarating in the extreme.
After I got sick and had the surgery that took away my balance, the pool was a whole other thing. The first summer, I didn’t have enough leg strength to negotiate the stairs going down into the pool, so I resigned myself to get stronger and be able to have the whole of the next summer to swim if I could.
So this last summer, I was ready. I climbed down into the water, wobbly as hell. I held onto the side and started to take some steps in the shallow end. I was astonished at how well the water supported me, and in a few short minutes, I was walking back and forth across the width of the pool with no assistance at all.
A few days later, I decided to see if I could swim. And so I lowered myself into the water on my stomach and pushed off the wall, the muscle memory took over almost immediately and I was off. I was only able to do a few lengths that first day. But as the summer went on I had worked my way up to 30 lengths. And with the work I am doing over this winter, I will easily be able to match or exceed that come next summer.
In retrospect, my pool is the very best therapeutic tool I have in my arsenal. I will use it for all its worth. And it will help make me stronger and get me back to where I want to be.