Swimming is the only activity which I get to do peacefully, alone. 20 to 30 minutes are those precious and cherished minutes where I am in deep silence, doing nothing else but swimming. Though I am not a pro swimmer, I learnt how to breath outside water, all by myself. Well not exactly I took the help of many benevolent people posting training videos on Youtube, and occasional “try the doggy paddle”, “breath out when lifting head and breath in through mouth” pointers from friends. But the persistent practice was all mine.
I feel like I am meditating during those 30 minutes. Except for “how to not swallow chlorine water”, I tend to forget the to-do list, the short term and long term agenda, the negativity and opportunities around me. I can feel the stillness inside my head. So much peace!
Today morning as well I went swimming. My son woke up and wanted to come with me. He suggested he would play near the pool while I swim. “Yeah sure” I said. I can keep a watch on him while swimming. “Do not go anywhere else. Stay near the pool” I warned.
I started swimming. He started playing. I practiced to breath intermittently and tried to cover half the pool’s length. I was in the middle of it when I heard “Mom, Mom, look here, look here”. So I stopped midway, and turned back to look at what he was pointing to. “What?” I asked. “See this butterfly. It is red in color”. “Yeah it is beautiful” I said and turned to finish my half pool length goal. But wait, I have already broken off, by completing only a section of that length. Fine. I started again. I managed to get to the other end of the pool, and caught my breath.
I was about to plunge into water, when I heard again “Mom, Mom”. I managed to stop myself from starting the lap. ” What?” I had to raise my volume because he was at the other end of the pool. “Can I go and see if Roshan can come to play?”. It was 6:45 AM. I signaled him to come to my side of the pool, and told him “It is too early. He will be fast asleep now. He will not come to play”. I tried to start my lap again. “But can I go and ask ?”. I again stopped myself and told “No. Everyone will be sleeping now. You cannot go and disturb. That will not be good manners.”. This time I waited a few seconds to see if the conversation would continue. But thankfully, he saw a small bird, and ran to catch it.
“hmm” I thought. This is not being the usual deep meditative session. “Let me try to finish this lap”. As you can imagine, there were a lots of “Mom, Mom” and conversations that had to be had, during my what-used-to-be my personal time. Don’t get me wrong. I love spending time with my son. I do it all the time at home, when going out, when at friends/relative’s place. But this was the only time where I was and should be alone. I answer and look at all the “Mom, mom, look” shrill of voice all the time patiently and sometimes enthusiastically. But this is supposed to be my “meditation” time. That is why I chose to swim so early. So I could have the pool all to myself, and be alone.
The last straw was “Mom, mom”, when I was inside the water.
“What?” I asked a bit irritated.
“When can we go home?”.
I told him “I have not finished yet.”
He asked “Can I go home?”.
The house key was with me hence I replied “Not yet. Let’s go in 10 minutes”.
Then I went inside water and tried to hold my breath for a longer duration. The moment I popped my head up there was the familiar “Mom, Mom” again. “What?” I asked. I decided to put a stop to these interruptions in whatever way I can.
He asked “Are you done yet?” That’s it. I decided to teach him something today. I managed to control my red hot piping anger, and told in a raised but firm voice, “Aakash” and waited for his response. “hmm?” he asked. “Unless it is an emergency, do NOT DISTURB me when I am swimming. Do you understand?”. He went silent. I stared at him. He stared at me. The staring contest went for about a minute, or at least that is how long it felt to me. Finally he said “ok.” and ran off to chase that red butterfly.
Who said single parenting is exhausting and has space only for sacrifices? Well its almost true. But we also owe it to ourselves to live a little. And if that includes swimming in isolation, then let it be. Oh! By the way, what’s your personal space agenda?