Aug 7, 2012

my failed olympic dreams

I have not blogged for several days. My excuse? The Olympics. About three hours of my day is automatically sucked up into a complete and utter vegetative state on the couch. Watching people do impossibly cool things with their bodies while I eat M&Ms by the handful. And then being guilted about not doing productive things when TV ads about athletes' immense dedication pop up.

It's funny because watching the Olympics, I remember how many things I tried before I finally settled on writing.

Soccer: Because my first name is Ryan, the little league coaches assumed I was a boy. This is how I ended up the only four-year-old girl on a team full of not girls. According to my parents I was very protective and nurturing whenever one of my teammates got hurt. I was also terrified of the ball and ran in the other direction every time it was passed to me.

Basketball: Another not so great foray into the world of team sports. I remember very vividly getting scratched on the arm by a girl on an opposing team. And getting floor burn. I was not a fan of such senseless pains.

Horseback Riding: I actually really enjoyed riding horses. I don't remember why I quit. Probably because I couldn't buy my own horse. I have fond memories of riding bareback through cotton fields. This skill came in handy when husband and I rode off into the Mexican sunset on our honeymoon.

Random life skills pay off. Sometimes.

Gymnastics: I liked gymnastics. A lot more than I liked ballet (which I tried three times because every time I quit I convinced myself it wasn't as bad as I thought). I loved cartwheels and handstands and walking the balance beam. My claim to fame is that I actually combined two of those by doing a cartwheel on the balance beam. My undoing was the vault. The idea of running full speed at a springboard and hurtling my body at a massive solid object was enough to end that Olympic dream.

Synchronized Swimming: This was the sport I stuck with the longest. I was a speed swimmer for a while (only in summer leagues), but the only problem is that I wasn't fast. Not only was I not fast... I was usually last. But I loved the water so much that I decided to try synchronized swimming. Thus started five years of sequined bathing suits, Knox gelatin hair-buns, nose clips and lots and lots of waterproof makeup. But don't be fooled by the sport's glittery uniform. It's hard. Our coach made us tread water for minutes holding full milk jugs over our heads. We had to do laps underwater without breathing. And then laps with our legs sticking up in the air. Those were the best abs I've ever had in my life. In the end, I was not passionate enough about the sport to take it to the next level. I did, however, acquire this life skill:

The "stick your leg out of the water and impress your friends" life skill!

By the time I quit synchronized swimming, I realized that perhaps sports were not my ultimate calling in life. Neither was piano or dancing or guitar. None of them really punched me in the gut and drove me the way storytelling did. My desire to succeed was not strong enough to get over the fears and the long-days of training and putting my body through pain. It was also around this time that I was getting serious about my writing (ie. enrolling in an arts school and becoming a creative writing major). My passions pulled me in that direction, and in the end, it was okay that I quit all of these sports. Without drive, without passion, it's not very likely you'll succeed in something. It's also a lot less likely you'll do well.

Talent, without drive, is useless.

Plus I'm pretty okay with just sitting on the couch and watching other people sweat. 


  1. Me too! I love watching the Olympics.

    On the other hand, I can't deny that exercise is good. But the Olympics requires far more than mere exercise!

    1. True, true. I do love exercise, whenever I'm in the habit. When I'm not it's just miserable.