Going with the Flow – A Life Lesson for Us All

Be Inspired Women’s Circle

When I was thinking of a topic for a recent Be Inspired Women’s Circle, I discovered an article about marathon swimmers – those brave people who swim in the oceans and rivers.  They are also called open water swimmers. The article focuses on Marilyn Bell, an award-winning swimmer who has been swimming open waters for more than 60 years.

At one point in her adult life she couldn’t walk because of serious back issues and was in a motorized wheel chair. But she learned to swim in a different way thanks to her swim coach.  In the article she talks about how she deals with life’s challenges, and specifically about the Pandemic.  This is a great lesson for us all.

Open water swimmer Marilyn Bell

I’d like to share some of the article with you:

Open water swimmers can never be certain about the outcome of a    swim. They’re always at the mercy of many elements outside of their control, from waves, to weather, to wildlife, to simply finding the will to keep swimming. For them, life isn’t a swimming pool, with lanes to follow and water that’s always heated to a comfortable temperature.

Marilyn Bell became the first person to swim across Lake Ontario at only 16, and went on to swim the English Channel.  She says that Marathon swimming has always been her metaphor for life.

Quoting Marilyn Bell:

“Life is an ocean full of unpredictability and difficulty. But after each swim, we emerge from the water stronger and more capable.

Minutes before the Lake Ontario swim was my first real experience of being totally unsettled, frantic, afraid, terrified. It was that experience that set the tone for how I have dealt with adversity and all the ups and downs of life since.

Often, dealing with uncertainty is about trust. When we’re really lucky, especially during uncertain times, we have a support system, whoever it happens to be: family, friends, faith. I think all open water swimmers would agree that a support system is key.

Being in the present

It’s about recognizing that there are so many variables that aren’t in your control. You can control how you think. You can also control what you want to think about. But you have to work at controlling being in the present moment and not thinking about what’s going to happen in the future.

When you’re swimming, you wonder, “How long am I going to be stuck in this lake? How long is it going to take to get to shore? What happens if they don’t give me my food in time?” These are the things you can think about. But if you overthink them, they’re going to really be detrimental.

Even if you do everything right, the tide can change. That’s what swimmers do, as long as they’re able. They swim until the tide changes.

Pondering the Pandemic

Now, during a global pandemic, people are wondering, ‘How long is this pandemic going to last? How long will it be before we have a vaccine? What happens if I get the virus?’

The pandemic is a variable that’s currently out of our control. When you’re swimming and worrying about things you can’t control, it’s not going to make a difference, but just makes your swim more difficult.

And regarding the pandemic, it’s the same. My belief is to control the things that I can and the rest will take care of itself.”

How are you going with the flow of life, against the tide or with it?

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