Frog Buddha



In my quest to avoid a physique of a post-middle age Marlon Brando, I have adopted a rather active lifestyle. “Active” used to be an occasional run for a tram and bending my elbow on Friday nights. Now it’s a bit more involved.

I still bend my elbow on Friday nights, but before I do, I go swimming. This allows a guilt-free session of beers and shots afterwards.

The one swim I can do without exhausting myself is the breaststroke. You know this one. It’s the one in which you go under with your hands pointing out in front of you, then doing kind of a frog kick and stroking your arms out away from you. With this stroke, I plod slowly up and down the pool, avoiding the old men in speedos. Slow is preferable to tiring myself out and sinking to the bottom, where Nathan would be forced to rescue me. So I go slow.

Though highly physical, I am finding swimming to be an extraordinarily peaceful activity, both in that it relaxes my body and calms my mind. After my swim, I feel content and fine. This is in part the post-workout calm I experience when doing other exercises, but because swimming is so automatic and repetitive, it’s an activity which allows me time to both think and clear my head.

Tonight, I am thinking about frogs, reflecting upon their peaceful demeanor. Frogs definitely swim faster than I can with my frog kick, but they never really seem to be in a rush. They sort of mosey around a pond, snapping their tongues out at the occasional fly and gnat. While they must exist with the anxiety that comes with being not at the top of the food chain, they seem pretty mellow. Their skin is their natural defense, so they don’t usually need to fight anyone and unless they’re in ponds in France, Belgium, or Louisiana, men don’t really pay attention to their legs.

So frogs seem like one of the more laidback pond animals. And I wonder if it’s because they just swim around all day doing this frog kick. I wonder if they clear their heads and relax every day, so that they are constantly thinking things through and coming to peace with things. Even a pond itself is one of nature’s more mellow environs. Surely it’s more relaxed than a speedy river or a horrifying ocean.

By the time we leave the pool, I am indeed enjoying the calm and relaxed feeling I have been experiencing post swim. I feel almost meditative as we walk from the pool to the pub. My limbs are loose and relaxed, my breathing is easy and steady. I continue to feel this way for the rest of the night. I have learned the secret, and all due to the frog stroke. I decide, after two slivovice, that from now on I will hold the frog as the animal kingdom’s Buddhist model for meditative activity and relaxation.

The next day, my butt is not only sore, but two specific parts of my butt that have never been sore before are in serious pain. There are two sections of pain on the outside part of each butt cheek. I lie in bed and wonder what it’s from, going back over my last day. I do the frog kick in my head once and realize instantly that the repetition of this action is the culprit.

This is a new spin on the frog. Maybe they’re not the mellow little pond Buddhas I have been giving them credit for. Perhaps they are swimming around with permanently sore butts. That’s no way to go through life. With a butt constantly sore in specific and odd locales. I may need to rethink my admiration of this pond dweller.

My new life philosophy is blowing up in my face. Fortunately, before I go down a waterslide of disappointment Burke saves me. She points out that frogs don’t really have butts. And then goes on to mention that frogs have a totally different build from people. In fact, they can’t do lots of things humans can do. It, for example, would be very hard for a frog to sit at a table and cut up a steak. They would have a seriously hard time firing a rifle or dancing the tarantella. They can’t dance, they won’t run in a marathon, and they don’t have permanently sore butts. But I do think that with their long, springy legs and naturally hunched up shoulders, they’d be super bicycle riders,

Phew. Disaster avoided, I can still enjoy my swimming meditation. I might have a permanently sore butt; or, more likely, a temporarily sore butt until I get used to the kick.

Hey, I wonder if that’s how the frogs did it.

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