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Sharing Lanes

February 5, 2012

Today at the pool — yes, I can swim now — there was a fracas. A backstroking man kept bumping into the young woman who was sharing his lane. When she asked him to watch out, he got angry. The lifeguard was summoned, but the poor lifeguard is the age of my students, and when he confronted the backstroker, the backstroker yelled that he was there first.

I missed all of this, but when I came up for air, the young woman had climbed into my lane and told me the whole saga. I watched the backstroker splash back and forth, taking up the entire lane, and was struck by how unguilty he was. He felt just fine hogging a lane and then being belligerent about it. What would it be to live like this — to feel that you deserve everything and anything?

I always swim right next to the marker, precisely so I don’t take up too much room. Not because I like sharing, but because I would feel guilty if I did not. And, besides, I know what it is like to arrive at the pool and see all the lanes occupied. It’s the social contract, I suppose: If I want people to leave room for me, I must leave room for others. This is civilization. But what are we to do with people like the backstroker?

This is why I like running. You don’t have to share lanes.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Caitlin Collinson permalink
    April 7, 2012 10:34 pm

    Haha! That’s why I like running too! 🙂 I can’t stop reading your blogs! I plan on reading all of your books this summer. You are such an inspiration! I will never forget when you came up to me after I read my poem for the first time in public at the UU church in Rockport. I was 14 and beyond shy. I don’t remember exactly what you said. It was how you said it. I believed that you actually thought I could write and you even referenced a line from my poem. Your confidence in me that day stays with me to this day. Thank you for being you.

  2. April 10, 2012 12:56 pm

    Thanks, Caitlin. I hope you are still writing.

  3. Caitlin permalink
    October 10, 2012 8:35 pm

    Thanks Charlotte! I need to make it more of a priority for sure. I really appreciate the encouragement though!

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