Tuesday, November 15, 2011
People such as these are indeed beautiful. Would that many others would see them as well, coming out of the swimming-pool water, going in. They wear bathing suits and for the most part with an unselfconscious air, amble solo alongside the water on their way to or from the change rooms. I try not to stare. Others too seem not to notice. But then again the unstated atmosphere under the glass and steel dome of the swimming bath is one of absolute acceptance of half-naked attire and bare skin.
The changing-room for men is always the first challenge. The proximity of completely naked and unabashed bodies at the wooden benches in front of the pay-lockers can be overwhelming; one does not want to be touched by a naked or wet backside, however accidentally. And then there are the showers, both before and after the swim, where many men, sans bathing suits spend untold time soaping themselves from the chlorine. I admit I've wondered if the women are as free in front of each other. In the pool though, where everyone wears at least a swim-costume, neither men nor women, I notice, greet or show signs of recognition. In fact, since I have gone about eight times by now, there are some women and men who appear to give me the very slightest of nods, as though they recognize that our exercise schedules coincide, but that might well be speculation.
It's the beautiful bodies I wish more people could see. Perhaps because of the late afternoon hour, or perhaps because younger persons do not frequent swimming pools as much, very many people are somewhat closer to being seniors. Some are quite a bit older than me, some younger. But the bulges and the bellies and the wobbles and the veins and the hirsute and the bald and grey are all together in the water, or apparent on the walkways, or in the change rooms, and we all appear to accept and understand that bodies are bodies. That's the beauty of it. I see such different shapes and sizes as to make of us a species as interesting as any animal. We have such varied gates, such varied swimming styles, such different ways of being represented. And it's beautiful.
There is hardly space for vanity or pride in the swimming pool. One is what one is. A hair-do and makeup and clothing and jewelry is of no consequence. Whether one can even swim well is of no matter, as long as one is safe; it is the bravery to be there, to let others see you at your age and at your stage of physical development that is beautiful. It is the allowing of oneself simply to be. The pool water is of course the metaphor for our rejoining with the elemental; underwater the sound possibly resembles what it was like in mummy's tummy! Why then or now care what one's body, or another's, looks like?
There are people who are aided from their wheelchairs and let down on seat-crank-cranes into the water. There are other people who are heavy and lumpy according to what is popular, but who appear to be accustomed to the tight fit of their swim-pieces and come enjoy the water too, beautifully free in their acceptance of themselves. So too for a group of developmentally challenged young men and women who sometimes come, their limbs and body shapes and abilities different than others, but they're there, participating. True, once in a while there's a lithe-limbed young man or woman, but one hopes they're not being too aware of themselves. The beauty really resides in the freedom of the self just to be. Bathing beauties. Would that it were so outside of the pool too. Being beauties. Just people allowed to be.