Sunday, February 22, 2009

The rhythm of life

When you first begin to learn how to row, you hear a lot about the rhythm of the stroke - it is like a waltz, they say. The part of the stroke when you are exerting lots of effort (the drive), is also the part that creates the strongest momentum through the water. The oar is in the water and you are pushing off with your legs, moving backwards with the boat. The drive is also the quicker part of the stroke.

During the other part of the stroke (the recovery), you are still floating backwards as a boat, but your body is slowly creeping forwards so that you end up knees-bent and body-forward. This part is supposed to take twice as long as the drive so that you allow the boat to move easily under you, over the water. During this part, you exert less effort and prepare for the next drive.

When I row, my mind goes blank. My brain is held captive by the constant rhythm of the oars, moving swiftly in and out of the water, the clunk of the oars turning in the oarlocks, and the surge of force at the beginning of each stroke. The rhythm of each rower moving in unison produces audible and physical rhythm such that you could easily row with your eyes closed and not miss a beat. It's no wonder people liken rowing to music.

In a way, it's a lot like life too. I have been keeping myself busy lately, not just with work, but with many things outside of work - writing, working on my dissertation, drawing, making music, gardening, reading, rowing, running, and, of course, spending time with Ben and friends. I have a thousand things I want to accomplish and the thoughts of things I want to bake and cook make me feel as if I will burst at the seams. I love it.

Mostly, what I love about it is that I don't feel like crap through any of it. Sure, I get tired and I also end up staying up a bit too late some nights; I exclaimed to Ben the other night, as I was finally getting a chance to catch up on my blog-reading, "How is it that you are getting to bed before me?!" when his morning alarm goes off a good hour and a half after mine. But, I'm not held back by the usual brain-fog or headaches or itchy rashes or symptom-surprises of my gluteny days.

And, let me tell you, time is flying by. But, I know this kind of activity is not sustainable and will not last forever. Just as one-third of the rowing stroke is intense pressure and the other two-thirds is recovery and preparation, so is life. Time slows again as we take time for self-care and we plan our next big tasks. I think that without that time for rest, we could never adequately fulfill the dreams we have for our lives - those next big goals we want to achieve - nor could we reasonably enjoy the achievement. I can't even tell you how slowly time passed during the roughest part of my healing from gluten and it was certainly a time for me to slow down, scale back, and be patient while I took care of myself. If you are in that part of your journey, I encourage you to do the same while you dream and prepare for your new, healthier life.

Would you expect that little sprout of a Brussels sprout to produce a harvest without any preparation?


Funky Food Trisha said...

Sent you some bloggy love by featuring a modified version of your cracker recipe on my blog. They turned out amazing. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

glutenfreeforgood said...

Great post, Lauren. Your rhythm of rowing is like my hiking -- it's "moving meditation" and so healing in many ways.

I read your "took care of myself" post and was moved by what you've experienced. Life is a challenge at times, that's for sure. Your CSA delivery will help in your recovery. Fresh, wholesome food is the answer.