Dammed and Stymied

Still and stagnant water sits in a pond

Open to the hot sun, it’s surface shrinks a little more every day

It is dependent on the mercy of rain

I wonder if consciousness is alive in its shallow depths?

Still and brown

Modelled in the shape of a brow, wrinkled in annoyance by the bugs that come to skip along its smooth visage

The moon visits but does not stay, merely passing overhead on her way, why bother to illuminate such a dark, small space?

A fox drinks but only because it is thirsty and cannot find a better source

Mosquitos and parasites use its risk free harbour to breed

A dog stops to defecate and pee, a pig uses it as a temporary wallow

The pond grows ever more shallow

And begins to stink

As rain clouds gather, some might hope

But the pond does not think

It just shrinks

*We are happiest when we are growing. This was bought home to me with my fitness lately. I usually follow a pattern of run, swim, cycle but the last week my swim morning has been pushed aside for another run or cycle.

Why? Because the other two pursuits are at an exciting stage of growth. My mileage is increasing, and my fitness level means that they are becoming truly enjoyable undertakings.

Swimming on the other hand has always been relatively easy for me. I stop at twenty laps (of a 50 metre pool) and get out. I was thinking of that as I was swimming this morning and enjoying the water. As I always do, but particularly after two days of strenuous run/cycle workouts. Swimming doesn’t feel hard, it feels like a reward.

But being a contrary being, I have begun skipping it as too easy. Why not instead increase the distance? Make it harder and then it would level itself up in my fitness goals again.

I discovered there are two reasons why I stop at 20 laps and don’t really go past it. the first is because my goggles are super tight and I develop a headache in the last couple of laps. The second is because my back begins to hurt as I only breathe from one side and it becomes a bit twisted. These two issues were largely subconscious irritants and because I didn’t really think about it before, I allowed them to dictate that I finish at 20 laps. Even though my shoulders were far from burning from exertion – I was being stymied by mild irritants and adherence to habit. What a waste.

This morning I added another ten laps – just to see how that felt. Yes headache, yes backache, but mostly it felt like a challenge again. Exactly how far could I potentially swim? This was still relatively easy. If I trained at it – pushed myself, how far could I go?

Potential is exciting. It is what drives us as humans. Always we want to see, what is over the next hill, how big? How far? What can we do? What if?

Curiosity – if you’ve lost it, life becomes stagnant and boring. We rely heavily on consumption, rather than creativity as stimulus. We distract ourselves from the pain of our soul: that part of us which wishes to expand, and is frustrated by this shrinkage, because that is what souls do – they seek to expand, learn grow.

Our souls are seeds whose only purpose is to grow into our potential. That’s why growth excites us.

I’ll give another personal example.

When I gave up my blog for a month and withdrew into more “worthwhile” pursuits such as work and housework (was I insane?) you know the things that have a genuine measurement of worth to others – benches are clean, laundry sorted, paperwork up to date – orderly efficient tick tick tick…



When I withdrew from my creative life I shrunk. My world went like the pond I speak of above. I was not myself. We are rivers, we are oceans, we are mighty waterfalls – we are not ponds. Humans are so amazing in what we can create and think into being that it is no wonder the universe wants to play with us, through us.

We are supposed to flow. But I had carefully dammed my borders. And I had no idea how damaging that can be until I came back to writing again. And felt my soul burst free and everything begin to flow.

Growth is our purpose. Pure potential is our dream. Not just in fitness and creativity but in every nook and cranny of life. The dour and miserable and bitter are made so due to entropy of their souls.

Don’t let your power shrink into a puddle. Broaden, expand and let laughter fill your life again. Stop questioning if you should be doing this thing that is fun. Of course you should. We are born to be playmates of the universe, not mere cogs in the wheel of mediocrity.

Oceans don’t need the rain, they create the weather. They can make it rain anytime they want to. I imagine we are the same when we fulfil our potential as all that we can be.

So don’t choose to be a pond – be an ocean. Write, paint, sing, dance, build, mould, run, swim, play….again and again.

At least that’s what I have found to be the truth anyway.

I know I’m banging on about fitness lately but that’s what I’m doing at the moment and gaining valuable insights into many things – probably the increased blood flow 😁 and time to think.

Header Photo by Jonatan Pie via Unsplash

6 thoughts on “Dammed and Stymied

  1. Nice, you’ve given my blogging the validation it needs to avoid getting back-burnered as self-indulgent or a waste of time. Unless you have a disqualifying injury, I think you should move to bilateral breathing. I was much happier with my swimming after I did that. Alas, I don’t swim at all now… damn disqualifying injuries.

    • I’d love to move to bilateral breathing Jeff, but every time I try I feel like I’m drowning – I figure I will just stop each 20 laps and stretch for a few seconds. Signed up for a half marathon in June yesterday – I have no idea what caused me to do that but now I have a goal with my running I guess 😬

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