Wednesday, August 10, 2016

USA! USA! USA!* (*misleading title)

I know I've told the story before on some blog of mine (this one?) about how I took gymnastics in third grade, and after about two lessons my coaches told my parents I could be in the Olympics. It was a ridiculous claim regarding someone who grew to be 5'9" and has the competitive drive of a three-toed sloth, but at the time all that mattered was that I seemingly had no fear of falling on my head.

My gymnastics career died as quickly and abruptly as it began (amid a lot of screaming and crying on my part — I really did not want to compete), but it did leave me the legacy of compulsively watching the women's gymnastics competition during the Olympics every four years.

Displaying the tendencies one day my coaches would love.
This year, the American women's team is so good they might be the best ever. And when they won gold in the team competition earlier this week, one of the commentators on TV described what being the "best ever" means. Paraphrasing here: they weren't perfect, but they were steady, they did hard things, and they didn't make any fatal mistakes.

I need to, like, fucking tape that to my wall or something. Because that, right there, is the recipe for a well-lived life.

Back in March, when I was on my miniature spiritual quest, I hit a serious meditation groove, and I wrote about how once I passed a certain threshold, I just cruised for a while in a state of Zen. I was doing so well that I even set aside time to meditate every day that I was in Vegas visiting my brother. The day after we saw Britney Spears, when I was as close to death as a hangover has ever brought me, I still managed to get 10 minutes of meditation in.

But then I hit a wall with it; after 41 meditating days in a row, I sat down and I thought, you're only doing this to continue your streak, not because you really want to. And of course I was right (if I'm not willing to be honest with myself, then who will be?). I took it easier after that...maybe too easy...and well, it didn't take long before I saw myself staring down the barrel of all the things that inspired my miniature spiritual quest in the first place.

I heard someone speak recently who's a go-getter who used to run a lot. All she did, she pounded. She pounded at work, she pounded in her personal life, she pounded the ground as she ran...and she said that's why she started doing yoga. She was concerned that if she ever lost the ability to pound, she wouldn't be able to live with herself. Her words gave me chills. Out again came the meditation app...out again came my desire to shift my focus and steady my gaze. Except this time, with the understanding that I don't have to pound so hard. That's my real work.

I'm not perfect. But I'm steady, and I like doing hard things, and pounding a little too much in my life so far hasn't been a fatal mistake. (Yet.) (I don't think.) There's no gold medal for mastering yourself, but there's little in life more worthwhile than continuing to train anyway.


  1. First: OMG Baby becky! I love it.

    Secondly, you speak the truth. I think I often have had the if I lost the ability to pound I couldn't live with myself. I didn't join a yoga class, instead the universe gave me 2016 to deal with. It is weird to be in a situation where pounding doesn't even matter.

    1. In a bizarre case of life immediately imitating art, I found out today that I have mono, so I can't run for a while. And I'm going to a yoga class on Wednesday. So I wrote out my future pretty accurately with this one...

      You have had one hell of a 2016, I know. And I know it wouldn't have worked out this weekend, but I still apologize for it not happening. Let's get together soon and get caught up for real (although it might have to be alcohol-free, depending on where I am in the lifespan of my illness). I'm sending you peaceful thoughts!