2011-03-18

How to "swim" in the sea of strangers

Now that I have systematically studied how to swim the crawl and have made fairly substantial progress in it, I have to study how to "swim" in the sea of strangers, too, though I do not know how. By "'swimming' in the sea of strangers" I mean socializing in a context where I do not know anyone personally in advance. Synagogues and health clubs are examples of such a context.

I was born and brought up in a place where everyone knows everyone else. So throughout my elementary and junior high school days I had no opportunity to acquire the skills of "swimming" in the sea of strangers. The crucial step is the first step of greeting someone who has stopped being a total stranger and has become a known stranger. Unfortunately, I have not learned this important skill either as other people generally approached me after I did something good or special in certain areas.

A synagogue can be a problem in this respect, as I cannot excel in any activity there. I visited Ohel Shelomo Synagogue in Kobe for seven years, but it took me a long time to start talking with enough people visiting there. In Chorev Synagogue in Jerusalem, where I have been davening for the past several years, I have made friends with a number of people, but mainly because they started speaking to me first. There are many people there who still remain known strangers because neither I nor they greet the other. Incidentally, on the basis of my experiences in these two synagogues (and other places) I have to say that sabras are generally far more closed than they think they are.

Another problematic place is the park where I have been running on every weekday for the past several years. I can already recognize quite a few people who run at the same time when I run. There is at least one excellent runner I would like to get acquainted with, but even the mere thought of just saying hello makes me quite nervous. I do know that there is nothing to lose if I say hello and receive no answer, but I find it very difficult to do so. It is ridiculous that at this age of mine I still have such a difficulty socializing with strangers.

2011-03-11

Relationship restored by the earthquakes in Japan

It may be indecent to say this now, but ironically, the record earthquakes that struck Japan today, destroying many things and killing presumably many people, helped restore something in my life that had been destroyed - my relationship with my sister.

When I visited Japan in February 2010 and met my sister with her husband, we had a serious and nasty quarrel, fueled partly by alcohol, accusing each other. That incident made us break off our relationship with eath other, and we remained on no speaking terms since then.

Having heard that Tokyo, where she lives, was also affected by the earthquakes, I found myself emailing her, asking about her safety and even apologizing about our quarrel. I received an immediate reply from her, telling me about her safety and also apologizing about the quarrel.

Since that incident I have been trying to convince myself that I was not to blame for it and I would never be the first to apologize, but deep inside myself something has been bothering me. I am sorry that I had to wait for such a national disaster in order to remove this "stone" from my heart, but I needed some special opportunity to initiate speaking to her.

I also need another special opportunity, hopefully a positive one, to initiate speaking to some known stranger who interests me.

2011-03-04

Pleasure of Total Immersion Swimming

Since I took private lessons in Total Immersion Swimming about a month ago during my trip in Japan, each of my (week)day comes its peak when I practice it before supper. I have also become a kind of evalgelist of this revolutionary method of swimming (and its method of teaching). I am a living proof for the efficienty of this method as I could not swim the crawl at all until I took these private lessons. Now I seem to be able to swim much faster with far less strokes, making far less waves, than any other who swims the crawl at the same time and place in which I swim.

Little by little I am starting to feel with my body what I have understood with my brain. Efficiency in swimming leads both to beauty and speed in swimming. By effiency in swimming I mean swimming longer with one stroke. A typical misconception many swimmers who have not been exposed to Total Immersion Swimming have is that they move forward in the water using mainly the muscles of their arms and legs. Watching my fellow swimmers in the same swimming pool, I can now see clearly that this is wrong. Instead, we use our core muscles of our body in order to swim efficiently, and we use our arms and legs mainly in order to switch the sides and support our body respectively. Even after swimming one hour, which I do every weekday these days, my arms and legs do not get tired at all as they used to before learning Total Immersion Swimming.

I also liked the way I was taught. They do not teach the complete movement as it is from the beginning. Instead, it is divided into smaller "modules", each of which focuses on one sub-movement of one body part as well as the posture of the whole body then. This way you can always improve a certain sub-movement by drilling the relevant "module". I was taught the main "modules", which I can drill even by myself, though having a teacher by my side is always a big advantage. This modularized learning method helps me feel that I am making a constant progress. Now I think that this method can be applied to other subjects.

In conclusion, I recommend Total Immersion Swimming to everybody. You have to be neither musculous nor even physically fit (right now) in order to learn to swim the crawl efficiently, beautifully and faster than before. I hope that I will be able to learn this method of swimming well enough to share its skill someday in the future with others who are what I used to be before.