...AND ONE MORE THING
‘Stay in your lane,’ and other lessons from swimming
Watching junior swimmers splash their arms and legs like crazy in a short race at the local pool keeps the coach just as energized cheering them on from the sideline.
“Stay in your lane,” he yells clapping his hands together enthusiastically while he paces back and forth.
There’s a lot more jumping up and down from the parents in the stands while the race is ending. The cheerful winner is recognized with a small trophy, and hopefully, a photo in the local newspaper.
Now will come more lessons from the coach, innumerable swimming meets and eventually one or two of the kids will move on to the next level of competition.
That “staying in your lane” philosophy makes plenty of sense to me, and I would say that it has kept me moving forward. I’ve had to deal with more than a few detours in life before getting on the path again, but I won’t complain.
I don’t like it when my GPS says, “recalculating.” Obviously it is nudging me back on the designated route.
A Facebook friend told me, “Everyone has their own path through life. It was forged especially for you and you alone. Avoid following another’s path, as it will only lead to heartache. Sometimes one’s lane will parallel another and in that you will find happiness. Avoid stepping into an oncoming lane. As it will always result in a collision.”
In his twenties, my father was a professional lifeguard in Brooklyn, and his swimming ability remained unparalleled way into his later years.
His style was an art form. He swam like he was meant to live in the water. I would marvel at how he could glide effortlessly for what seemed likes ages with a solid stroke that barely set out a ripple. His breathing was very deep and calm, too.
Dad tried to teach me to carry on a conversation while swimming. He wanted me to slow me down and keep me relaxed while going for the distance. Usually I could make it just so far, and I would give up treading water while dad swam further.
I realize that is how my dad led his life, too. He had a lot of stamina and determination; he stayed on course always doing the best that he could.
From the outside it would appear that life was effortless for him and that his success as a businessman was natural. It wasn’t though, because I saw all the hard work that went along with owning a store that took his total involvement.
A few years ago when I went “over the pond” to visit a friend who was on a teaching exchange in Holland, I got the shock of my lifetime experiencing the German Autobahn firsthand!
“Kay, you take the backseat. You will be better off there,” said my wise driver friend who was experienced in high-speed travel.
Sure enough, what little I could see of the scenery was enough along with jetlag and lack of food in my stomach from the overnight flight.
Sometimes life, too, is fast, high-risked and requires quick decision -making. One must stay focused and on top of his game plan.
My brother-in-law bought a cute Alfa Romeo when my sister and him lived outside London. When I came to visit she was in the process of not only reviewing her rusty stick shift skills, but also learning to drive on the left-hand side of the road.
In the two-seater, my brake foot was continually jamming the floor while my sister wove us in and around tight curves on narrow country roads.
There is no room to be tentative about life and its opportunities. There is room for learning curves along the way, however.
A young friend tells me, “Every time something is planned, no matter what it is, there is a beginning point and an end. Take the direct route that was planned. It doesn’t allow for detours, distractions and other exits along the way. It’s a very focused result-driven way of staying on task from the beginning to the end.”
Families that raise mentally or physically challenged children know exactly how important structure is for their child -rearing with stated beginnings and endings. Step-by-step advances and tiny achievements are priceless to them, and they all deserve accolades for staying in their lanes.
All this drives me to a big point about staying in my lane, and I mean it in the literal sense of keeping between the lines on the pavement.
Road warriors that are texting and cell phoning that weave off their lane and into mine are a hazard! I suppose that in the scheme of things that the police have to deal with daily, this is a minor infraction. I beg to differ.
Oh, I have had my share of incidences lately, and it reminds me that it isn’t always me, but the other driver that I need to watch out for constantly.
I am my brother’s keeper, and staying in my lane, or out of the way so someone can pass by is part of what life is all about. It has nothing to do with fairness. I’ll get to my destination all in due time.
Perhaps it is best for me to stay in my lane and tread water occasionally. More importantly, I will refocus beyond the horizon and kick-off with renewed vigor when I get the signal.