I jogged in place in three-and-a-half feet of cool water, warming my muscles, while I watched the sun stream its golden light into a blue sky and fill the white clouds with iridescence. Foghat pounded from a big, plastic boom box, and I kept pace with the steady, driving beat of “Slow Ride” while the pool filled with bodies.
For the next hour, on the command of the water aerobics instructor, all thirty of us swooshed right and left with the kickboard in our arms or waved our arms overhead and bounced up and down in a series of jumping jacks or whatever it was we were told to do while 100.3 The Sound offered a continuing stream of classic rock.
But my attention was on the sky. Several women also turned away from the instructor and gazed toward the swollen, setting sun as we exercised.
“Beautiful,” said the woman next to me, acknowledging our shared experience.
While we kicked, lunged, jumped, and swooshed, the sky’s blue turned to striated pastels. The clouds became pink and then bruised slowly, first on their bottoms; then the purple seeped up, overtook the pinks, and swallowed the rosy glow in their scalloped tops. Quickly then, purple became ash.
“Such dramatic change,” I thought, my mind turning toward how I often resist and resent change, even when it comes in the span of years rather than a few minutes.
That me – earthbound and limited – seemed foolish and small now to this me, immersed in the pool and expanding awareness. I was more than in the moment.
Time stretched – and I with it – as the music pulled me into a non-specific nostalgia for a past era, the water and movement anchored me in the present, and the trajectory of the sun and its myriad sky effects, still working on the Western horizon, pulled me into the future. I was in five decades at once. Maybe more.
On my back, I held on to the lane line, scissor-kicking and gazing up into the now blue-black expanse of the sky where time seemed to reach out in all directions. I felt myself move with it, transcending mere presence. Weightless and timeless, I felt myself expanding toward omnipresence.
“This must be what it’s like to be God,” I thought, not with self-importance but with awe.
This side of heaven and still time-bound, class ended at 8. The bodies began to emerge from the pool. While people wrapped themselves in towels, I did a handstand. I turned a few somersaults. I stroked the surface of the radiant blue water, which had become more beautiful now that it twinkled in the pool lights, wanting to stay.
“It’s time,” I thought, making my way toward the steps. My fingers were water-logged. My bladder was full.
Back on the pool deck, I felt a different pull. Gravity.
As I picked up my towel and made my way toward the exit, everything felt twice as heavy as it had before I’d gotten in the pool. And I wasn’t ready to be burdened again – not physically with the weight of the world, nor mentally by the conventions of linear time and thinking.
“Nope,” I thought. “Not yet.”
Tossing my towel toward the bleachers, I took several large and eager steps and plunged back in.