In addition to maintaining physical fitness, I really do believe that swimming contributes to mental fitness. A certain equanimity results from swimming back and forth and as this metamorphoses into a not unpleasant boredom certain thoughts drift in and out of consciousness. I call this the TAO of swimming.
Many of the thoughts are philosophical on a grand scale e.g. the nature of the universe and just as many are trivial, but not, I believe, insignificant. Many are related to medicine, an area to which I dedicated much of my life, perhaps too much, leaving other important things undealt with. Despite the tremendous leaps of modern science, I fear for my profession as I reflect on some of the amazing physicians I was privileged to know and learn from. For the most part their likes are gone and in this sad age I fear they would be more the objects of ridicule than of admiration.
Unsummoned, embarrassing moments come back to haunt me. Ridiculous, trivial incidents of little or no significance, that should have erased themselves from my memory half a century ago, still bring a metaphorical blush to my cheeks. Some of the difficult decisions of the past raise their heads and either leave me with a feeling of satisfaction about how well I handled them, or a tinge of regret at how much better they could have been dealt with. I often think of patients whom I was privileged to care for and admire their courage and attitude in dealing with the hands they were dealt. I also remember some of the ones who had difficulty dealing with anything, who I could sometimes help. I enjoyed a warm relationship with most of my patients and in fifty five years of practice never had a threat of a legal suit. In fact, in my youthful naivety, I firmly believed that if one acted in the thoughtful best interests of one's patients, one was immune from legal suit. No aspect of my practice of medicine was influenced by fear of legal suit until relatively recent years. It took me a long time to realize that was no longer the case, and that one had little option but to practice a self protective style of medicine in this adversarial atmosphere that our legal colleagues have bequeathed to us. This is responsible for a very significant portion of the cost of modern medicine, without benefit to health care.
And sometimes I am reminded of some of the things I don't want to be reminded of, and that's a whole other story.
It's all part of the Tao of swimming!