Posted by: realifemermaid | November 7, 2013

The darker waters

Just a fair warning.  This post is a little darker than my general optimistic happy tone, but not without reason. 

My (parent’s…she lives in Maryland) 6 1/2 year old golden retriever, Maddie, was diagnosed with a cancer near her eye a few weeks ago.  They tried to treat it, ultimately they are going to have to take her entire eye out. 

In case you missed the new about Maddie, we got her right before I graduated college, the same time I was very sick with severe, uncontrollable migraines and cluster headaches.  Maddie took care of me, helped fill the empty nest, and is a volunteer “touch dog” at the nursing homes, schools, and libraries.  When I still lived at home and started swimming again, she would try her hardest to keep up, walking along side my mom and then jumping through the waves to swim with me for a little, before growing tired (after about a mile!) and getting back out to run with my parents again.  In short, Maddie helped bridge my college years into adulthood and eased the transition to empty nesters for my parents. 

Don’t worry.  This post does have more to do with swimming.  Just wait for it.

The news about her eye really disturbed me.  Of course I am sad for her, but I really am glad that she is going to live a healthy, full life after the surgery, and from the sound of it get even more attention than she already receives. 

The problem is the idea of imperfection, decay, growing older. 

When I am swimming really long swims, one idea that gets me through it is the idea of “It’s all going to be over.  No matter how painful this is right now, five hours DOES end!  Twelve hours ends!”  Hey, even twenty-four hours ends, so why not go longer than my currently planned agenda?

This mantra I have chosen for myself of “No matter what, it is all going to end” along with a scary anaphylaxis episode last summer…along with my impending 30th birthday (okay, that one is still 18 months away, but still…) has given me pause to eerily reflect. 

After a few months of strange reflection, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I am simply in awe of how much we can and can’t control in life.  Time has always eluded me….as a regular pool swimmer, I chased seconds and hundredths of a second.  Now, time has become my mortal mental enemy, a stalemated rival in a staring contest.  Who can last longer….swimming or time? 

Time continues to wear down on everything.  I came to this conclusion as I got out of the pool today and was still disgusted at the scar on my right knee, which is only there because I fell down the brick stairs in the front of my house.  It has company, though…two surgery scars and another scar from a silly accident when I was nine years old. 

I can’t control time.  I can’t control the way it marches forward, dictating how much of my day might be spent in sleep or work or swimming.  I can’t totally control a lot of unfortunate events…car accidents or cancer or skinned knees or bad breakups.  Time and accidents unfortunately seem to be best friends, skipping away, placing bombs along the paths of unsuspecting lives. 

I can control perspective.  I think I have always had an optimistic attitude that has helped me through a lot in life, but controlling this perspective takes optimism to a different level.  It is understanding when to rationalize when something is happening, and when to just do it. 

When to just keep swimming, with blind faith that it will end, and not question how many minutes or miles or strokes you have done. 

When to understand and accept that something just is because it is. 

Not to stop thinking and questioning, but to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of time.

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