Thursday, May 05, 2016

I’m the fastest when I’m the one who gets to say go

Every lap swimmer seeks his own lane. 

It’s pure bliss. You can stop and start whenever you want. You can do any stroke you choose. You don’t have to swim in counterclockwise circles to accommodate multiple swimmers. You don’t have to worry about some jackoff triathlete hero trying to pass you on the left. And you don’t have to focus on maintaining your orientation within the allotted area. 

Brian’s famous painting puts it perfectly. 

I’m the fastest when I’m the one who gets to say go. 

Unfortunately, the swimming pool is rarely empty. Despite my revulsion against anything that endangers my own path to independence, the moment another swimmer plops down beside me and requests to share the lane, I must oblige. Because it’s their pool too. 

And so, I’m learning to make room in my life for the other swimmers. Even when their flipper accidentally clips me on the shoulder as they swim past. I just let it go and keep moving forward. No harm, no foul. Everyone’s just trying to do their laps. We’re all in this together. 

That’s what respect is all about. Saying yes to people’s basic humanity. Even when we’d prefer to swim alone. 

We are, after all, a social species with an innate desire to communicate with each other. We weren’t built to be singular units. And even if we could swim alone all the time, we wouldn’t want to. 

That’s what I try to remember every time I put my goggles on. Instead of selfishly trying to make myself completely free from the risk of other people, I should welcome the opportunity to share the lane. It just feels better. More human. Less lonely. 

Do you prize the privilege of being alone as well as the pleasure of being connected?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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