It’s been a beautiful series of weeks here in the East Bay area of California. The sun has been out, the temperature has been in the low 60’s. It’s made for lovely runs and bikes. I can’t say the same about my swim workouts though..
Because the weather is so nice, now half of Cal Berkeley’s campus has decided they want to enjoy the sun in the outdoor pools. So my normal workouts are clogged with 3 times the normal people, none of whom seems to understand how to swim laps in considerate ways.
One day was particularly frustrating. I’d been having a bad workout and three guys kept tearing down the length of the pool at top speed, swimming over me, knocking me around and generally making it rather impossible to get a workout in. What was particularly infuriating was the fact that the guys would tear down at top speed, knocking people out of the way, but then take 5 minute breaks after swimming one length.
As I held onto the far end of the pool, catching my breath after being elbowed in the face, I looked over and saw Mr. Grey Cap. Because of the regular hours I kept while I swam and the fact that I was swimming in November, December and January when there was steam coming off of the outdoor pool, I became familiar with other folks who were regulars. Although names were rarely exchanged you recognized folks by their faces and suits.
There was Ms. Green Suit, who did a backstroke workout on Friday; Yellow and Black Jammers, who always did a 1200 at blistering pace but never seemed bothered by my slower pace when we shared a lane; and Mr. Gray Cap, who was always there Tuesdays and Fridays swimming a slow steady pace, come rain or shine.
Mr. Gray Cap and I made eye contact and I made some comment about “Where were these folks in December?”
He just sighed and said, “Just ignore them. They’re just living from wall to wall…..”
The comment stuck with me. Sometimes I feel like I’m just living wall to wall, especially in my spiritual life, with no goal in sight but the short term. Short blasts of energy to get me there that ultimately leave me exhausted and might have taken someone else out in the process. Worst of all, there’s not much room for God and no real sense of something bigger than myself. I pray when I need something, but that’s about it.
Living Wall to Wall is a terrible, inefficient way to swim and its a worse way to live. Steady, disciplined and sometimes even boringly slow swimming leads to great workouts and that satisfied peaceful sort of tired instead of exhaustion. I keep reminding myself of the God who wants to spend time with me all the time, not just when its exciting or beautiful out. The God who is just as excited to spend time with me on raining Thursdays in November in my life along with the sunny spring afternoons.
Prayer and Life are about more than just the next goal, next job, next milestone, next wall. They are also about the big vision and the little moments, and every slow, steady lap in between.