“What happened?”, that is the question that haunted me recently after my morning swim. A more specific follow-up question is: When did I develop a selfish side?
My awareness occurred during lap 13 which shall now forever be embedded in my mind. I swim every morning. I usually do water aerobics for about 30 minutes and then swim laps. My mom was a championship swimmer “way back when”, but that gene is one I did not inherit. However I am drawn to the water and perhaps that is a way of staying connected to her. I am not a good swimmer, certainly not a pretty one, but I love my 60 minute daily swim far more than any other exercise I do.
At Washington Sports Club, there are four lanes in the pool, carefully roped off by heavy plastic ropes, suggesting that each swimmer stay in her lane. I am a believer of the “lane” concept. Beyond swimming, it refers to one of my basic values: “staying in my lane” if you will, where I can excel. Every now and then I step “out of my lane” and try something new, like learning to speak a new language, but find myself happy to retreat back to my lane as mom, gram, Professor O’Neil, and Social Committee Chair. In my lane I am at my best, confident, comfortable, and happy.
On the morning in question, I was literally in my lane doing my laps and as I approached the wall preparing for a turn on Lap 13, I saw a man standing outside the pool looking to see where he could fit in. “Oh No!” I thought to myself. “I don’t like to share a lane.” I pretended to not notice him. I checked the other lanes and found they were all occupied. Surely one of the other swimmers would offer to share their lane! I,who meets and greets strangers on the street every day, deliberately never made eye contact. with this man. I did my turn, and kept on going on to Lap 13, at a faster pace than I ever remember swimming. It was as though I was swimming far away from that guy, or perhaps more accurately said, ” far away from the right thing to do. “–not like me, not at all like me!
On my walk home, I could not get my mind off what had occurred. When did I get so selfish that I couldn’t so much as share a lane with another swimmer? I always think of myself as a generous person , but not this time. No this time I was downright selfish.
I couldn’t help but wonder: Was this an isolated decision or were there other selfish moments lately? I couldn’t answer that question but I will continue to search hard. A high SUCCESSTROGEN woman takes care of herself (makes choices that work for her) but does so with full acknowledgement of its impact on others around her (the swimmer looking for a lane). If I find other examples, well then that is not the woman I wish to be and I will make the changes I need to make.
And so I am off to visit a friend, will share this story with her and she will “let me off the hook” by declaring that I am not selfish. She will back her statement up by several examples of things I did years ago when I lived here that she benefitted from directly. But you see, my belief is that whether I am selfish or not is not determined by what I did in the past, but rather by what I do each new moment and my moment before Lap 13 I decided to be selfish.