Looking for Swing in Iowa City

When I find myself wide awake in the middle of the night, I leave bed as quietly as I can and go to a collection of books on my Kindle titled “Inspiration.” So last night here in Iowa City, on our drive west from Boston to Denver, I found myself in the company of author and oarsman Craig Lambert. At page 125 of
Mind Over Water: Lessons on Life from the Art of Rowing
, I found this:

“The boat swings you. The shell wants to move fast: speed sings in its lines and nature. Our job is simply to work with the shell, to shop holding it back with our thrashing struggles to go faster. Trying too hard sabotages boat speed. Trying becomes striving, and striving undoes itself.”

These words made me remember how struck I had been while watching the championship singles race at the Head of the Charles, how surprised I had been to see what looked like ease instead of effort in the swinging back and forth of the rowers.

Everything I read seems brilliant at 2 a.m., but this book by Craig Lambert also stands out in the light of day this morning. We have a corner room on the sixth floor of the HotelVetro, and sun is pouring into the floor-to-ceiling windows. Darlene and Claire are ready to hit the road for a quilt shop in Grinnell and then on to Omaha. Driving across country has its own rhythm. I could easily blog away for another hour here, but the boat is leaving. I need to be mindful of this admonition from Lambert:

“On crews, some rowers are called anchors, human impedimenta who slow down boats. Anchors lack grace, partly because they try to do it all themselves. The isolated mentality cuts supply lines: it blocks supportive energies from boat, oars, teammates, opponents, spectators, and the forces of nature. Anchors set up an ongoing struggle of self versus environment. Disconnected individuals to┬áDO not swing.” (p. 126)

Or, to put it into the words of my traveling companion, “Claire and I are going to the car, and if you make us wait too long, we’ll leave without you.”

Okay, okay! Note to self: Don’t be an anchor today.


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