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Swimming in chaos

Between 10 am and noon, the public swimming pool in Bussum, a small village 20 minutes east of Amsterdam, is reserved for lap (or length) swimming. As soon as the clock strikes twelve, all sorts of big floating objects are taken out for recreational swimming.

Recreational swimming means literally that - a free for all. Kids run and jump into the pool. They stack mats and other floating devices on top of each other, as high as they can stay afloat and move unimpeded by other equally immense objects.

It was within this chaotic environment that I tried to do my laps yesterday afternoon. It's the first time I went swimming in three weeks --- a record breaker for someone who used to go swimming five days a week.

Navigating in the waters of this gigantic pool proved a challenge as kids came flying from the diving boards and their flotation devices. Secretly I wanted to abandon my disciplined lap swimming and join the fun of building floats and racing these carriers.

In three dimensional space, I reflected how a Confucian upbringing has trained me to do what's expected of me --- an indisputable sense of discipline and obligation. The lanes are clearly marked.

However, life is chaotic and unpredictable. It seems a lot more fun to contribute to the chaos and be part of life than to stick to the predefined path. The only problem is this:

By swimming laps, you know how much distance you've covered, how many calories you've burned, and you feel a sense of achievement which is measurable and specific.

But what can you possibly gain from recreational swimming, where you splash about, build flotation devices that topple over, and expend all that energy in the name of fun?

22 March 2004 Monday

Related entries:
Crowded swimming pool
Meditation in 3D space
Reaction from reader:
That's the choice you make. If you don't pick the chances life offers you, you don't live. It's enough to keep a goal in your mind and get off track sometime, later on you can do your lanes again. It's even more efficient: only swimming lanes does not qualify your life. Step out of line, play a false note and maybe you find out something new, another road to your goal, if not: stick to your known lanes but keep playing, please.
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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.
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