Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lane 4 Enlightenment

I don't think of myself as an angry person. I think I have a fairly long fuse. But there are a few things that truly piss me off: people speeding like freaking maniacs on the highway, pushy solicitors on the telephone, and clueless swimmers barreling right down the center of my lane.

I swim once a week for 45 minutes during Simon's swimming lesson. I'd like to swim more, but getting to and from the pool is difficult at this time in my life. So I cherish my 45 minutes every Tuesday afternoon. I try to swim at least 2000 yards.

There is one lane designated for lap swim at this particular time. I know most of the other swimmers and usually we have no trouble crowding 3 or 4 people into the lane. We respect each other's space and try to stay out of each other's way.

But this week a new person showed up. Laura (another swimming lesson mother) and I had been happily splitting the lane until this third woman jumped in, at which time we agreed to circle (meaning everyone stays on the right side of the lane coming and going).

This woman was clearly not a swimmer. She did a wide, slow breaststroke right down the middle of the lane. She did not give way, forcing Laura and me to swim around her, which was difficult with three people in the lane.

The breaststroker was not being deliberately obtuse. She was perfectly nice. It was obvious that she simply had no knowledge of lap lane etiquette. And I did not want to spend any of my precious swimming minutes clue-ing her in.

I spent about 10 seconds getting angry, and then I remembered my Zen. It sounds wacky, but it worked. I reminded myself that we are all one universe. I am the breaststroker and she is me.

Ping! Instant compassion. Instant loss of anger.

This is a better way to live. When I can remember to live like this.


  1. Well good for you on being Zen because I definitely would have had to say something. I am not Zen, I am straightforward. I am not the breaststroker because she is a pain in the neck. Whew! I feel better just typing that.

  2. And you would have a better story, Helen! Tales of mindfulness are never gripping. Kind of boring, actually. But on that particular day I felt better for not having seethed.


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