Friday, July 22, 2011

Owls & Goals

The past couple of days, while swimming laps in the early morning, the water the same temperature as the air, I have been musing on small goals. Lately, the lap swim lanes at the pool have been crowded--no doubt partly because of the heat, but also, perhaps, because of small personal goals.

People who planned to lap swim regularly but suddenly realized the summer is already slipping away. People who are participating in triathlons, now in training for the swimming part.

Except for post-biopsy week and a couple travel days, I have been there every day the pool was open (that is, not on theft day and not when there was lightning). I realize I'm like those runners who run in all weathers! I've been there when the air was in the 60s, shivering when I got out, shivering on the ride home, but swimming anyway!

I am steady and regular, swim at a constant pace, and this is basically how I live my life. It's like the patience and persistence with which I pursue poetry, or anything else.

And it lacks small goals. So did my other "careers." There weren't milestones, there weren't specific things I wanted to achieve. I just wanted, simply, to do what I love doing and make a living at it. Sigh....

I stumbled upon some major achievements! Became part of the Steppenwolf Theatre's Second Company and  did mainstage shows there when I was a "struggling actress" as they say. Co-edited a literary magazine for a decade! And I'm glad of that. But none of this helped me "make a living," as in support myself financially, at what I love doing. And I haven't been able to turn my head around, like a wise old owl (?), to any other way of looking at it.

I still think my head's on straight, though. I'm OK in spirit. This is what I am, and I am still going along swimmingly.

Three things have reinforced me in this, in wildly different ways, yesterday and today--making me laugh, wince, and nod in assent. Take a look at this wonderful article by David Graham on Emily Dickinson's "barefoot rank," this funny poster on misery at Book of Kells, and this wonderful poem by Hannah Stephenson, called "After After." Read the poem, and then click on the small title under the poem's title to see the image. Sigh...

7 comments:

DJ Vorreyer said...

A wonderful post - I miss swimming, and I am jealous every time you talk of swimming laps. All of the pools around are exorbitantly expensive to "join" and so I go without most of the summer.

Thank you for your steady strokes here on your blog - I am barefoot and swimming with you!

Hannah Stephenson said...

Well, Kathleen, this really resonates with me.

It's interesting to have these goals/accomplishments in place of results. I know exactly what you mean. This summer I've been submitting my manuscript to a million places...I feel a sense of accomplishment in this in that I'm not being precious about sharing my work. That level of fear I sometimes have about submitting just isn't there. That feels like something to be proud of, for me, but there's no great result from it now.

And I'm touched that you liked the After After poem. Thanks for sharing that Misery poster...

Kathleen said...

Glad this resonates with both of you, Donna and Hannah.

Yes, Donna, I guess we've got to be barefoot, or in scuba flippers! (I can't afford the fancy clubs and pools, either, so this is the public-pool offering!!)

Hannah, good luck with the manuscript. I wish I had some good small goals, but breast stroke, Australian crawl, and even the dog paddle will keep me...afloat!

toomuchaugust said...

well my dear, i was a lap swimmer too (and before i forget to say this: "not on theft day" needs to become a poem(actually it is a poem in and of itself)). my lap swimming days were back when i was married to a man who told me that what was wrong with me was that i didn't set goals for myself. i was more of a "let happen" than a "make happen" person. eventually we parted ways and i remain a "let happen" person. (yeah!!)

stroke on, :)

sherry

Kathleen said...

Glad to hear this, Sherry. One internal version of this post had details of heart rate watches, equipment, etc., etc, the stuff I hear from, yes, mostly men, but not always, in the pool! Anyway, the intermittent swimmers....

I am lucky to be married to a "let happen" person, although too much of that, er, drives me crazy, in myself as well as in him. (Some things do have to be planned, decided upon, and committed to, eh?) Lap swimming and the breathing that goes along with it encourages a balance.

Cathy said...

This makes me happy.

Personally, I'm an "anything but freezing rain" runner.

Kathleen said...

Cathy, it makes me happy to make you happy!