Monday, January 4, 2010

Life in the Medium Lane

The dressing room was completely empty this morning as I prepared for my morning swim. I love a calm swimming pool…a quiet dressing room…perfect morning. As I walked out of the dressing room and into the pool, a little girl inside jumped for joy. Just me! I can pick ANY lane I want! YAY!

As I looked across the pool, with it’s quietly rippling surface, the six lane lines floating unassumingly along the top of the water, I glanced at the shallow end of the lap lanes…and felt all my exhilaration fall away. There, on the deck, at the end of the pool stood the label for each lane. You know the little yellow bi-fold signs that say “Fast,” “Medium,” and “Slow?” As I scanned those signs, I could almost hear the little girl inside cry out, “Nooooo!”

See, now I can’t choose any lane I want…I have to take the lane I’m “supposed” to be in. This is my paradigm.

Now freeze frame here for a moment. Picture me, standing in front of a completely open pool, thinking to my black and white conscience, I must choose the lane I am supposed to go in…medium, I think…yeah, I am a medium swimmer. To be quite honest, I have no frame of reference for which lane I should be in. I have never had someone tap me on the shoulder and say, “You really should be in the medium lane.” But I put myself there anyway. Because somewhere in the back of my mind I have the belief that I haven’t put in the time, effort or haven’t the skill to swim in the fast lane, and thus don’t deserve to be there.

Even when no one else is in the pool with me.

The weight of this revelation and the implication in my life sat with me as I stroked my way through my workout. With each stroke, I wondered how much faster I would have to swim to be a “fast swimmer.” I wondered who would have to define that for me? Would I ever believe it of myself, without acknowledgement from an outside expert? How do I hold myself back in my life due to this same belief?

And then, a single thought entered my mind and hung there in the splish splash rhythm of my freestyle stroke…a thought striking enough that I stopped swimming.

My adult, wise self had a meeting with that little girl inside. And said something to her that I have said to my children countless times before. Wise Cari said to Baby Girl Cari-

EVERYTHING is a choice. Choosing to follow the rules is a choice. Choosing to label myself a “medium” swimmer is a choice. Choosing to get into the “medium” lane is a choice AND choosing to believe that I am not good enough and must rely on someone else to tell me that I am is a choice. Now CHOOSE to stop doubting and CHOOSE to get your butt over to the fast lane.

Which is exactly what I did. Maybe just for today, I swam in the fast lane. Tomorrow, perhaps I will swim in the medium lane again. I did find myself pushing a little harder, resting a little less and being more conscious of the technical aspects of my stroke, and I realized that, frankly, I am not sure if I WANT to swim in the “fast” lane. However, whether I want it or not is not relevant to this post. What is most important is that, regardless of whether I want to live life in the fast lane or the medium lane, or even in the slow lane, I never forget that I have the power to CHOOSE.


  1. Thanks for dropping by my blog the other day (via Company Girls)!

    I love those little moments that have you stop and think, even if you're right in the middle of something. Stop and think, and then shake off any preconceived notions. Good for you!

  2. I love this post. I had a moment this week that was so powerful in my daily life...I realized that somehow I had transitioned my media production end of the business from "helping friends in nice places out" to being "technically proficient on my own" was a Velveteen Rabbit moment when I realized my dreams are becoming real! I'm choosing to live them!
    I do hope you and I will find time soon I so want to get to know you better!