Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thanks For Making Me A Fighter (Why Swimming Reminds Me of the Clarinet)


Cue the Christina Aguilera, cause I know you want to! But in all seriousness, I love a good fight. I've always thought that the best fights are the ones that one has with themselves. This is where I find myself: in the constant fight to move more and eat less. Am I prepared for this? Actually way more than I really thought.

"Do your work." The simple words of a favorite mentor somehow worked their way into my head space as I was swimming yesterday. I gigged to myself...mo matter how hard the work in the pool feels, I'm still having fun! I haven't experienced that type of fun (excluding drinking, shopping, and you know...other things) since playing the clarinet started to get "complicated". Perhaps I'm onto something here...

In the past, I had never really gotten the music/sports connection. Well duh, Kathleen! Were there any sports you were passionate about? There's the difference: PASSION! I used to love music and the clarinet with pure passion...then it took a turn, I started to view it as my vehicle permanently out of SETX as well as my vocation. That's heaping a lot of expectations on one thing. Or at least it is in the way I process things.

I got off track there for a bit... Back to the music/sports connection: swimming being like clarinet playing. When I stopped playing the clarinet, it was because of an injury (although it brought some actual mental relief)...and over my dead f-ing body will I have to stop swimming because of an injury! I want this to be a life long love affair, so I simply swim smart.

You will kill your embouchure if you just play and play and play and play until you're tired. The same will happen if you swim like this. I set time limit (and am starting to experiment with laps) and once I'm done, I get out. I don't care if I have more left in the tank. Preserve what I have today, so I can continue to swim tomorrow.

Say that every type of stroke is like playing in a different key. You don't just play that scale once and exclaim, "HUZZAH! I have mastered Eb Major for life." Oh no, no! (And this is a lesson I learned the HARD way.) You break it down time and time again, constantly checking yourself to make sure no weird ticks have made their way into your stroke. Slur two/tongue two - isolate your arms my floating your hips with a pull buoy... All tongued - work your legs by just holding onto a kick board. Do this for every key/stroke over and over and over again.

Yesterday when I got out of the pool I wondered, "how many laps would it take to swim a mile?" 44 was the answer. I quickly calculated how many laps I'm currently swimming per workout. I quickly calculated that: 21! HOLY SHIT!!!! I'm almost swimming a 1/2 mile every time I get in the pool! I had no idea. SCORE! So I've devised a plan to get me to a mile, this is pretty much just like setting a map to learn a new piece of music.

Here's a different between music and swimming: subjectivity. The wall is where the wall is - subjective. The scale every time I get on it - not subjective. A measuring tape around my thighs when the scale isn't budging - not subjective. Grades on your juries - subjective. Compliments and thoughts after a recital - subjective. I'll never know how much of what I felt about my weight consciously or subconsciously factored into how much I hung onto others subjective decisions, no matter how well-informed or well-intended... and it doesn't matter, because when it comes to my weight loss journey; me, myself, and I are sailing this ship. I like that type of control.

One thing about swimming that I really love (and I love it as it related to clarinet playing) is the ritual aspect. Getting into all your swim gear is much like opening your case and taking out the instrument. Hoisting your body down into the pool is like opening your sheet music. You wait for all the wakes (sound) around you, exhale, inhale and glide... I start my swimming with the breast stroke. It feels most natural to me, and I feel like I'm communing with manta rays. (And we all know how much I love my mantas!) That initial stroke is so good, so centering and you know you're exactly where's you're supposed to be; just like that first long tone of the day where everything is right...your reed feels right, sounds right, and you've gotten there early enough to where there are no violins in the room next to you sawing away on Paganini Caprices.

Maybe the greatest gift that this swimming/clarinet connection has given me is some closure and some peace. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, but things with the clarinet still seamed unfinished. While I didn't ache to play the clarinet any longer (well, there were those 4 months where I was just a mean and angry bitch...) I missed the passion and paradoxically the structure that clarinet playing gave me: I missed my craft. If I had to loose that to gain new passion and new structure into myself, and have a new craft to hone...one that will make me HEALTHIER and in turn happier...cause hell, it's going to TOTALLY up my chances of living to being a crazy old bat... That makes ALL OF IT - since I was twelve - completely and utterly worth it. And not a thing anyone can ever say can make me feel differently.

Now to "do [my] work", I just hop in a pool instead of behind a music stand. I have a new home, I have a new fight.

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