I never use headphones when I am training. Even on two hour long jogs around Boston, I can’t bring myself to fill my ears with noise. Because I always have noise in my head and training gives me a break from it all. And we all have it, the noise, it invades our minds if we let it. It invades our sleep, it invades our down time. The noise becomes our normal. A constant humming in our brains; every thought has a purpose, every thought has a motivation.
How do we shut off the noise? For whatever reason, I find my training gives me something altogether different to focus on. The rigor of physical exertion over an extended period of time is one of the few things that takes me completely outside of my self. Long rides, or runs, and most of all swims, are like mental vacations for me. I don’t know if my mind has a grip over me, or if I have a grip over my mind. But all that matters is that there are times when I am free of the grip.
When I’m submerged in the pool, I can hear nothing but the expulsion of air from my lungs as I exhale underwater. As I turn to the right to take a breath, I can hear nothing but my gasp for breath. There is nothing so solitary as swimming. It takes complete focus, complete trust in your body. As I go up and down the lane, finding my rhythm, exhausting my muscles, my thoughts wander. I wander through sad, depressing thoughts, thinking over the ways I’ve failed people, or failed myself. I wander over my accomplishments, some that I marvel at.
And, when I’m really in the zone, my arms churning through the water, my legs pumping over the pavement, I stop thinking about myself completely. And this is when I feel free, rejuvenated, creative. I think about the incredible miracle of skin, and how it holds together our bodies. I think about how deep the roots of a sequoia tree must go. What if roots are what’s holding together our planet? Speaking of planets, how many other Earths are out there? We are so insignificant and tiny in this speck of a galaxy…
Finishing my workout and catching my breath I realize, right before my thoughts creep back in, that I just spent an hour pondering. Oh, the luxury of it! To let your mind roam free through the mysterious corners of your brain. There is so much stored in there, so much to explore, mountains and valleys of thought and ideas. It’s a fabulous journey through consciousness and subconsciousness. It is my break, it is my therapy, it is my freedom.
- Noise, or The Pound of Flesh it Takes Being Human. (hagiographic.com)
- Anxious Thoughts? How To Slow Down A Racing Mind (huffingtonpost.com)