I just spent the last weekend of June at a swim meet (where I spend many summer weekends in fact) in the quaint town of Etna, California. It’s the kind of quaint where in the early morning you can be walking with your husband during swim warm-ups and, you see a family of deer with two newborn fawns trotting by you on the same path. The people are friendly, the scenery breathtaking.
But what captured me most this weekend was the metaphor of the swim meet in general and how it relates to personal health. If you look closely at this shot, you’ll see a microcosm of the whole scene. People doing various jobs in various ways, but all working together to make it happen.
In case you’ve never been to a swim meet, the way it works is people set up a day camp which serves as home base. They put up awnings to make shade, they bring food and drinks (and sunscreen–lots and lots of sunscreen). They gather there, moving between the pool for their kids’ various races and frequently retreat to the shade in between races.
The kids move around. They visit other people’s shade. They share their feelings about completed races, about upcoming races, about their arch nemesis who is always neck and neck one lane over. They’re in and out of the pool racing their hearts out, competing with their previous swim time and trying to earn points for their teams. As this is our fourth year as swim parents, we’ve seen them grow. The teens who stick with it develop amazing muscle tone, perseverance, and competitive grace. They almost always shake hands after their races. They cheer one another on. The older kids mentor the younger kids. And, frequently, they are in VERY good shape.
Most all of the parents pitch in with volunteer spirit to make the whole gig fly smoothly. They time the races, they train to be “stroke and turn” referees, they pick up and deliver time sheets–there’s never a lack of chores to be done to run a swim meet. However, they also take the time to sit and connect with one another. They take pictures for each other and bring special foods they know other swimmers adore (thanks, Manning Family, for your amazing homemade jerky and thoughtfulness.) They take time to meet up after the meet for a dip in a stunning lake. They take time to play.
Isn’t that what being healthy is all about? My son’s favorite shirt says, “Work hard, Play hard” and I think what I like most about that is the sense of balance it connotes. Working together–connecting, being outside, encouraging each other–getting good exercise, inhaling Vitamin D infused sunshine, cuddling with nature. I can’t think of a better recipe for healthy living.
If someone tells you to go jump in a lake, do it. Dive into July and find your healthy place. It’s out there waiting for you.