Swimming in the Sky

Nine years ago, I was in Tokyo. I had the privilege of staying at a fancy hotel, and one day, I went to their impressive, competition-length, 25-meter pool. As I was doing my rounds, the skyline outside the window blurred with the edge of the pool, and it felt like I was swimming in the sky. It was awe-inspiring. I’ll never forget that feeling.

Back then, I hoped I would “make it” so that I could have experiences like that more often. Nearly a decade later, I still don’t really know what “making it” means, but as I swam in a rooftop pool in Singapore, also paddling from skyscraper to skyscraper, I remembered that feeling.

While I’m still far from being able to casually globe-hop from infinity pool to infinity pool, what I do realize by now is that swimming in the sky is not the point. It’s only one of many things that can be an inspiring experience, and most of the time, you don’t need to go to Tokyo to have one. I’ve felt equally powerful moments sitting on a park bench in Munich under a big tree swaying in the wind, and in a random bar over a beer, talking to a stranger.

Inspiration may be a perishable good, but most of the time, it is also free to refill your cup. And while new experiences do so in a special, different way than routines we’ve already enjoyed many times, the best part about them is not their novelty but their potential to become one of those nostalgic sources of stimulation — regardless of whether we can repeat them.

It took me nine years and two nights in expensive hotels to learn this lesson, but as it turns out, you only need to swim in the sky once to forever unlock a new feeling. You may never return to the same pool, but you can always bathe in the memory of the experience, and on 99 days out of 100, that will be enough.