Ah swimming. I miss it when I'm not doing it, a bit like sex with a passionate new lover. Though swimming leaves me much calmer, connected and less likely pregnant. I mean, I seriously hope less likely pregnant. What are the chances of getting pregnant Virgin Mary style in a public swimming pool I wonder?
Just thinking about swimming gives me the dopamine high I used to get from seeing a little red social media notification on my phone. However swimming doesn't also give me the huge low that ensues after relentlessly checking my various messaging apps. Facebook, Twitter, email, repeat. Facebook, Twitter, email, repeat.
Having recently discovered something I sense myself forging a very positive attachment to, I have been forced to assess the things to which I have a more unhealthy attachment. This is namely of late: social media, messaging apps and my phone in general. I recently spent a weekend living in a tree house in Snowdonia National Park (casual brag) and on the way there my phone ran out of battery. Upon arrival at said tree, I realised that I wasn't going to be charging my phone (or flushing a toilet, turning on a light switch or using an indoor shower) any time soon. And it was bliss.
By tuning out I gave myself the chance to tune in. I sat at a wooden table outside of a wooden hut, 30 feet up in the air. The entire weekend I had nothing else to do bar listen to the tree tops sway as the birds gossiped, lie in my hammock and stare dreamily at the clouds, swing from a rope through the branches like Mowgli or host banana tea parties for our inquisitive (and somewhat rotund) neighbourly squirrel, Nutty.
I appreciate such an adventure is a pure and rare luxury but sometimes it takes this amount of change to make us assess how we normally spend our day to day life. I used to live relatively contently without a mobile phone and most certainly without social media. So why can't I do so now?
As much as I loved the sensation of being without my phone, the first thing I did when I returned home was plug it back in... just to check. I think I probably 'quickly' check my phone every twenty minutes or so. What is it I am checking for? Possibly to see if I have landed a great job that will change my life forever. Possibly to see if anyone is thinking about me. Possibly because I have forged an addiction to something I'm finding really hard to crack.
By simply acknowledging our addictions I believe we are one step closer to letting them go. As with Parts Therapy, there is the 'part' of me that consciously knows constant checking makes me anxious and unhappy. However there is the other 'part' of me that subconsciously fears that I might be missing out. The irony is that this most certainly means I am missing out - on my actual life. Indeed there is also the part of me, and I see this so often in others, that fears having to face my own feelings. If there is nothing to distract me, I might have to acknowledge that today I feel like crap, that I'm anxious about something or that I'm simply scared of all life's uncertainties. And if there's no quick fix, best off never thinking about it and simply distract myself. Facebook, Twitter, email, repeat. With all this habitual self-numbing it is no wonder we often feel lonely, lost and anxious. To tune out to the bad stuff we also tune out to the good.
Having acknowledged my dirty habit I have begun asking myself what am I looking for when I reach for the phone. If it's not a practical thing such as 'how to spell Mowgli' or 'is the pool open during thunderstorms?' then the only other explanation is to fill a void or numb a pain I am currently experiencing. I am starting to allow myself to feel the discomfort that wants to be felt. "Sit in my shit" as someone once advised. Because the minute I do that, I also allow myself to let go of it.
Perhaps that is one of the reasons I love the pool so much. For one whole hour, I lock my drug of choice in a locker and don't think about it even once. Instead I write dialogue in my head for the play I am developing and laugh at the wonderful and often hilarious tidbits of conversations by others in the pool. I allow myself to acknowledge the pain of losing my mother whilst also feeling a deep connection to her. I count my blessings for the million and one beautiful things I have in my life; my family, my friends, my health and I thank the universe for giving me access to a flipping outdoor pool as the sun shines down upon my face.
I'm consciously choosing to let go of the habits that don't serve me thus allowing me space to fully embrace the ones that do. I've finally realised that life is for swimming and my little mermaid is having an absolute whale of a time. #mermaidlife