Movement, and Memory

Apart from my train home, which was running late 20 minutes late and was short of a few coaches, and hence even more overcrowded that usual, today it began to feel as though things are starting to flow a little better. My Art Therapy book, ordered in early September and misplaced by Royal Mail for a month and a half, was finally delivered yesterday. After a few months of intermittent research and unanswered emails, I finally managed to locate a T’ai Chi class on a day which I can attend, not too far from home, and I will try a ‘taster session’ on Thursday night. Things are moving at work, and feel less burdensome, if still very pressured. I also made it out of the office door to go swimming at lunch time today, and swam a very enjoyable mile.

One of the reasons I am so pleased to be swimming again, after a 6-year break, is because it is a very relaxing and satisfying way to feel connected to my mother. I concentrate mostly on my breath, my stroke, counting lengths, and timing things right so as not to catch the person in the lane in front of me until the end of the length, but she is gently alongside me all the time. I remember her demonstrating how to push down firmly and efficiently with my hands in backstroke – her favourite stroke – keeping my hands next to my body rather than curving out and back in. She taught me to do tumble turns in Alexander pool, beautiful blue in the glorious morning sunshine, guiding me to take a breath before diving under, tucking my body up tight, trying to push forward firmly rather than slipping off to the side. She explained that I needed to ensure I emptied my lungs properly whilst underwater, so when I came up for air I could just breathe in, rather then try expel the last of my breath quickly before sucking not quite enough air back in. These are all things I still actively concentrate on and work to improve.

She loved swimming; it was full of delight for her, and I am so glad I eventually gave her the chance to infect me with some of that joy. This is just one of the truly countless gifts she gave me, that will be with me forever – and, like my awareness and memories of her, they are constantly there, whether I focus active attention on them or not. She continues, and will always continue, to be a comforting presence in my life.

11 thoughts on “Movement, and Memory

  1. I didn’t realise you were looking for a tai chi class, would you like me to ask my teacher for recomendations in your area? they do vary quite a lot, styles and lineage. I love your memories of your mother sharing swimming teachings with you, in the water our boundaries dissolve a little and awareness of breath becomes altered. I have always wanted to go and do some days with Swiiming without Stress. never got there yet, but they have a lovely site with some interesting info on it. enough chit chat, take care – Joanna

    1. Ah, that would be wonderful. I am in Lee, South East London, not far from Blackheath. If you want to do the swimming, do it! Book on now and you’ll get yourself there, and thoroughly enjoy it I am sure.

      I find myself wishing, as I browse your blog, that I had found it while I was on maternity leave, and excitedly cooking and baking new things all the time. You have some wonderful recipes there!

  2. It was Tessa, too, who both gave me my love for swimming and taught me so many of the things you describe. I spent hours practising tumble turns in your Burger Street pool. We loved swimming together and I am looking forward to having you here in the sea where we scattered her ashes. Having you next to me, watching your stroke slicing through the water, will be the closest thing possible to those wonderful times of swimming next to my most loved one. Her wetsuit is waiting for you.

  3. This post, especially the middle paragraph, somehow captures the rhythm of your swimming and imparts some of the calm and peace you found while doing it, as well as the new ‘flow’ you have found in your life (apt choice of word!). How strange that your book was held up for so long and eventually appeared; as if the universe is saying: you’ll get most out of this book now, much more than when you originally ordered it.

    1. Yes, I suppose there are always patterns we can’t see at the time. I am glad you heard that rhythm, and ‘flow’ was the word that kept going ’round and ’round in my head and made me decide to write. I’ve lost that flow a little since then, but these glimpses all help…

  4. Your comments about swimming where so thorough and interesting I almost lost what the pst was about, but then I got the lovely memory of your mother that threads through the advice. Really nice to read. That breathing all the air out under water is one I’ve never thought about. You learn something every day

  5. I love what Becoming Herself said about the delivery of your book being delayed to arrive exactly at the right time!

    This is a very special post…your swimming alongside memories of your mother ‘s love and care, encouraging, soothing and moving…

    ‘…guiding me to take a breath before diving under…’ I know you were sharing your mother’s guidance, but perhaps now (and even then?) it is/was more than swimming instructions.

    Thank you again for sharing. Perhaps someday you will put all your deeply honest reflections into a book to help others through their grief.

    1. Thank you. Yes, her guidance stretched to every area of my life, and there need be no boundaries between what one lesson can teach us, and the other areas it can be applied. I do like that perspective.

      I feel so caught up in try to survive, one day at a time, at the moment that it is hard for me to step back and see any sort of bigger picture – I can just about grasp a day, sometimes, or a week, but not the cohesive whole of my grieving pattern yet. A few people have mentioned writing a book (and, of course, it has been novel-writing month too), and perhaps one day it will evolve.

      I have been thinking a lot recently again about the balance between getting the most of out of life by using every minute of the day productively, and the importance of prioritising stillness – that doing nothing can be the most productive thing to do sometimes. I’m trying to learn more about what this is, what it means, and how I can find it – and this means that I am trying not to take on too much, as my instinct to follow every interesting pathway often means I do. Perhaps writing this blog is a bite-sized, manageable step that is allowing me to explore what writing is to me, what it can become, and how it could evolve… and perhaps that will lead to a book. Or perhaps not. But thank you for planting another seed for this thought.

  6. What beautiful memories and how fluidly you write, really captivating. Calm and peace in the way you describe swimming, especially “flow”, I find that I do loose my flow but do regain it, as with the ebb and flow of the ocean. Often finding myself just trying to survive a day, but my thoughts of your blog keep me in check. To stop, breath, take in what is around me, and connect.

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