Finding Redemption at the Community Pool
I wasn't having the best day. Not the worst, but one where everything feels like a bit of a struggle. Nothing felt really satisfying. It was the kind of day where I unconsciously punish myself by not quite doing everything I usually do to keep myself happy and well.
It took me until around 9pm to remember that the best way out of that bind is a change of scenery, and that the best change of scenery is one that gets my blood moving, so I headed to my local pool.
I felt the weight lifting from my joints and my shoulders. I slipped out of my brain and into my muscles as they propelled me through the water. Ahh Sweet relief.
But, as nice as it was to have a workout, the part that really made me feel better was hitting the showers afterwards.
There were other bodies! Lots of them. In every shape, size, and colour. Every tone, texture and topography (ok, I know that last one is a geographical term, but I really wanted something alliterative). All of these women, just minding their own business, and getting clean together really struck a primal nerve for me. The same kind of nerve that tingles when you stare at a campfire, or drink a big glass of water when you are really thirsty.
I felt safe, and comforted. I felt a sense of belonging, and I remembered something that I forget all too often:
There is no wrong way to have a body.
We might get in or out of shape. We can get derailed by death, divorce, or injury, or be at our physical peak. We will experience many physical states in our lives and have lots of feelings about those states. But existing in a physical form is not something we can do wrong.
Everyone bustled around as the lifeguards announced the end of the day. Some chatted with friends and with strangers, about new work, losing a parent over the holidays, or whether to have butter chicken or pizza later. Everyone seemed relaxed. I left feeling so grateful for the sense of community and the human contact. It doesn't really take much to break through someone's feeling of isolation and self judgement.
I know that around the world many cultures have strong traditions of communal bathing. I feel like that is a really good way of fostering compassion and connection, even in passing. Grooming together is ubiquitous among great-apes. I also know that compassion and connection are possible anytime, and in any state of dress or undress, really.
Still, it's nice to be reminded that I'm really lucky to be wandering around in this fragile construction of flesh and bone that has the power to feel so many things.
In other news, this is tonight! I've been really enjoying 20 minute paintings as a practice and I can't wait to get my hands dirty with these other fine artists.
Its going to be a great night! Doors at 7:00, painting at 8:00. The audience votes for the winner, and I would really love some friendly faces in the crowd.