I told you I’m the world’s worst running blogger. For example, I rarely check my stats. That is why I was surprised to find that Swimmers and Runners Share A High was the fifth highest ranked of my 153 posts. So what is it with swimmers that they are in the top five posts in a running blog?
I have a theory, and it’s based on that sensation you get when you are immersed in your passion. Author Lauren Groff writes in Swimming – A Plan B Essay published in Ploughshares last year, “There is a moment in swimming when, after a while, the body’s rhythm grows so comfortable that the swimmer loses awareness of herself. There is a marrow-deep letting go. She isn’t thinking. Her brain is off, her body is on autopilot. She is elevated… some people call this state ecstasy, others call it Zen. They are, perhaps, different names for the same phenomenon. It is difficult to attain, and there are a thousand ways to attain it. Some meditate, others do peyote, others focus so hard on their art that the world itself falls away and they look up, days or hours later, to be staggered by what they have created in the full flare of their own white heat”
See, I believe I could have written about many activities–cycling, yoga, painting, cooking, woodworking, or writing–and people who practice those avocations would have had the same reaction because, as Groff writes, “”Full immersion, of course, is the highest level of anything.” It’s all relative.
And then, as things tend to do with me, it all comes back to writing. Groff concludes, “The same person who swims also writes, and makes the writing into a kind of swimming. If I weren’t a writer, I’d be an open-water swimmer. They are different modes of pushing toward the same purpose: those singular moments of ecstasy, the gorgeous, the ungraspable, the letting go.”