For Olympic Swimmer Anthony Ervin Voyage Of Self Discovery Is A Long Strange Trip

The words from the Grateful Dead song, “Truckin,” are quoted so frequently they almost have become a cliché.

Yet they still are perfect for certain situations.

And one such use is to sum up the picaresque journey of Anthony Ervin, whose first 35 years on earth have indeed been, as the song goes, “a long, strange, trip.”

That’s in all senses of the word “trip,” as Ervin makes abundantly clear in his compelling, sometimes stream-of-conscious new memoir, “Chasing Water.”

The book’s subtitle is “Elegy of an Olympian.”

An elegy is a lament.

But the place in which Ervin finds himself now – and in the final pages of the book, which takes him through 2012 – is something to celebrate.

And so what if Ervin has no idea what the next step will be after he swims in the 2016 Olympics. After all, this is a guy who says, “I have no home other than where I rest my head.”

The future will likely be another episode on his personal discovery channel.

“Self-acceptance and self-knowledge is continually what living is for me,” he said.

Forget trying to figure out his identity from the labels that have been pinned on him for his heritage, age, years of rebellious and often self-destructive behavior, shoulder-to-wrist tattoos on both arms and ability to cut through the water like a knife. To all that, Ervin responds with the title of an Arctic Monkeys album: “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.”