I’m a swimmer. A really slow, inept, flapping-around-like-a-fish-on-dry-land kind of a swimmer, but a swimmer nonetheless. I love being in water; I love the repetitious mindlessness of laps; I love listening to my breathing and watching how the sunlight from the windows in the aquatic center reflects off the pool surface and shimmers and twists on the ceiling like a nest of electric eels.
I once read somewhere that it’s almost impossible to find a swimmer in a bad mood. It likely has something to do with endorphins, but I think it’s more than that. I love floating in the water, and the feel of my feet pushing off the walls at the end of each lap, and how relaxed I am when I climb out of the pool at the end of a session.
I began swimming regularly a couple of years ago, to lower my blood pressure. (It was either that or give up guzzling wine by the bucketful, so the choice was easy.) My joints immediately stopped aching, my body got stronger, and my sleep improved dramatically. Swimming is a wonder drug with no unwelcome side effects, apart from an occasional noseful of chlorinated water.
Writing is the polar opposite of swimming. It’s almost impossible to find a writer in a good mood. The surgeon general should slap a warning label on all laptops, notepads, pens, and pencils, declaring them dangerous for your health. When I climb out of a manuscript at the end of a writing session, the muscles in my back feel like they’ve been braided into a ponytail, my brain is goo, and I’ve usually got drool in my beard.
So why do keep doing it, you ask?
Because if I stopped, I’d have to get a real job instead of playing make-believe all day.