Swimming: the last refuge?
About twice a week I get up early to swim. I go to the pool (or maybe a lake in the summer) and swim for an hour. Nothing complicated. Lots of people do it. Many say they feel good all day after doing it and have a sense of having achieved something useful.
I also, sometimes, get up early to work. I switch on the computer, make a tea while it warms up, drink my tea while checking the weather, email, Facebook, Twitter and various news feeds I follow, discovering all sorts of things I want to read. If I’m not careful I can quickly find my extra hour has disappeared and then I wish I’d gone swimming instead.
When you swim, no one can text you or phone you or message you. You don’t hear any annoying beeps on your phone as new email comes in or someone tags you on Facebook. You could listen to music but not many people do. You just swim and either focus on swimming or let your mind wander.
In open water the escapism is even more pronounced. You can usually swim further without turning and you have more space. No doubt someone somewhere is working on a pair of goggles that project a screen in front of your eyes, perhaps controlled by brain waves so that you can respond to email as you swim but we’d prefer it if that didn’t arrive too soon. With Wi-fi and 3G connectivity encroaching on almost every public and private space, the water is one of the few places you can leave it all behind, and long may it stay that way.