Inside a building two pools side by side separated by glass. But looking is not the same as seeing. There is a sense of separation and a dissolution of barriers. It is a beautiful contradiction hidden to most but the curving corners of my mouth betray the fluid intensity before me and the surge of joy and appreciation at witnessing so many bodies in various states of motion and becoming.
Young bodies expand and explore the depths of movement with eagerness and energy while larger bodies next door also move with purpose and focus. Technique and a desire to improve and become a better swimmer the shared experience. Feedback from coaches refining the co-ordination of limbs in various combinations, careful additions, subtractions correcting strokes of a body with spokes. Goggles on, prosthetics off and time running the same for everyone. Standing in the shallow water those beginning to appreciate and assemble the skills to move through this alien medium peer through to the other side with a mix of awe and respect. No, it is ‘not over their heads’, they know intuitively the work and effort that is perhaps the only thing that might represent a distinction between them. Perhaps from the others side, there is an awareness, a sense of the mirror and recognising the journey taken. The simple act of a smile, a wave crossing time and space to reach through illusions of separation rendering a fluidity of now and exacting a perfect moment of immanence.
Like superheroes without capes casting aside previous limits and rescuing role model images from the clutches of neurotic gendered stereotypes that prevail through more traditional sports. Not a body hair in sight yet no masculinity was in question or of concern to these guys in tight fitting body wear. Women as broad and powerful with their physicality and proudly sporting body art displaying achievements. But none were immune to goggle eyes and cap hair. These finely tuned biological machines and machines within machines, metallic eyes and cybernetic limbs assembled together as aquatic mammals.
A place where butterflies exist without a chrysalis. Although there might just be a hint of caterpillar at times.
[Written after watching the New Zealand Open Swimming Champs from the confines of the learn to swim pool next door – best free sports viewing ever, although it is rather steamy and hot…the air temperature!]
This morning I sat staring at a bauble looking at the distorted image of my face stretch across the surface I felt a stirring of a smirk. The Cheshire Cat effect only added to a surreal sense of hysteria as I played with my reflection. I had been pondering my previous posts about Christmas, and trying to pinpoint my disquiet which seems to keep shifting like the light bouncing back at me. The shimmering mirage reminded me of the book/movie Sphere. As a quick plot summary then, a giant gold orb (like a Christmas bauble for a tree the size of very tall building) is found on a UFO found at the bottom of the ocean. It just happens to have come from earth…in the future, but it’s been there over 300 years or so (thanks to biology and the growth rate of coral). In the movie it (the UFO not the coral) has ‘trash cans’ and a skeleton on board that looks like it was borrowed from set of Indiana Jones. I’ll leave the ‘book vrs movie’ debate up to the IMDB message board.
Turns out the orb has one function, to enable the instant manifestation of thought to occur. Trouble is in the presence of humans it did that all too well – playing on the fears of the crew sent to investigate it, so that they do not realise they have created their own nightmares playing out underwater…it’s very claustrophobic. When they eventually figure out what is happening they decide that humanity is not ready for such power and use the one thing that might send the golden globe back and get a refund on collective paranoia ride. They use the power to forget.
I sometimes wonder if all the mini baubles on Christmas trees have that power. That in spite of our best efforts to focus our intentions on those values we hope are reflected there is an ugly and terrifying truth of consumerism is hard to ignore that polishes off the last resistance to the glittering prize of the ‘bargain’. The hypnotic seduction of advertising has done its amnesiac work as Kiwis spent record amounts of money – well done – slow clap – now look in the mirror.
To quote Sphere:
“This is the gift of your species and this is the danger, because you do not choose to control your imaginings. You imagine wonderful things and you imagine terrible things, and you take no responsibility for the choice. You say you have inside you both the power of good and the power of evil, the angel and the devil, but in truth you have just one thing inside you – the ability to imagine.”
― Michael Crichton, Sphere
As the tinsel lights and trees come down and shiny baubles are packed away it really is time to reflect – without distortion. I for one am not about to con-cave in.