“I don’t think you should swim, Liz.”
This was the advice my Dad gave me two weeks ago.
Advice that I ignored.
We were sitting in my Nanna’s house, on the eve of the Great Swim, an open water race in my home city of Manchester. My Dad, sitting opposite me in my Nanna’s brown wing-back chair, looked at my concerned. “You’re full of a bad cold, and if you get in the water now, you could make it worse. You could get pneumonia and you don’t want to get pneumonia.”
I didn’t say much in reply. But I knew I’d be getting in the water, whether he agreed or not.
I finished the Great Swim faster than I expected, and I felt totally fine.
Until several days later when I felt totally not fine.
My doctor told me this morning that thankfully, I don’t have pneumonia.
But I do have severe bronchitis.
Along with his prescription of two different antibiotics three times a day, he told me sternly that I must not swim for the next two weeks.
I’m kind of worried. Two weeks of no swimming, as well as the last two weeks of barely any swimming because I’ve been feeling so ill? Shit.
The big swim I’m training for in September is nearing, and I’m starting to feel hugely under-prepared and under-trained.
I have big expectations, you see. About how the swim will go and what it will be like, and the kind of time I’ll swim it in, and it’s these expectations that I’m uncomfortably bumping up against as I sit here typing this—in bed—where I must now rest, knowing that they’ll likely not be met.
This whole situation has got me thinking about expectations in general. You know, life expectations.
When we feel disappointed or unhappy or frustrated or angry or irritated about something, it’s normally because we had a certain expectation of how that something would be, and it didn’t work out that way.
I have really high expectations of things and people. And to be honest, I regularly feel let down. It’s something I’m much more aware of these days than I used to be, and I’ve realised along the way that yes, people and situations will sometimes be a let down, but that I can make it easier on myself by not expecting so much all the time. It’s difficult for me, to not expect so much though. I’ve got this deep, deep fire that roars inside of me to constantly challenge myself, to push my mental and physical edges and see what I’m really capable of. With that, comes sky-high standards and a need to have things just so, and HA! life is never ever just so, is it? Life just is. This is very hard for me to wrap my head around, because, GAH, what am I supposed to do with all this space between what is and what could be?
What is right now is rest and taking it easy.
What is right now is being ok; with, come race day, maybe not swimming as fast as I think I will.
What is right now is probably being a little under-trained and not swimming as strong as I’d like to.
And what could be is 7 weeks away, as I swim to the shore of Lake Coniston. Only then will I really know what is.
Act without expectation.
~ Lao Tzu