Meh, I say, meeeeh, with the utmost disrespect to the sport that is their passion.
My friends keep asking me to join them in their passion and play tennis, but because I am me and can't just leave things as a simple “no,” I feel the need to elaborate. I hem and haw and “meh” like I am Larry David, digging myself into a deeper hole.
"Eh, I don't really play tennis..."
"Nah, I'm not really into sports..."
"Trying to hit a ball over a net? Meh, I...I just don't see the point."
With these probable insults, I should be wondering why I have any friends.
And yet, with the upcoming start of the 2016 Olympic Games, I find myself wondering about sports.
For couldn’t we question this about all sports? You win, you lose, eh. Couldn’t we shrug and say, what is the point?
What drives these athletes to strive for these above-human feats?
What makes them go?
My father runs 20 miles a day, my god, for what reason?? (Says the girl confident she will never run again unless she is being chased.)
Through him I once had the pleasure of meeting the world’s fastest speed walker. The whole time while chatting I thought, while you are awesome, if you’re the fastest walker in the world, why not just run? What keeps people dedicated to their passions?
I have a secret:
Sometimes, late at night, I watch a Youtube video of Kerri Strug at the 1996 Olympics.
I was 17 at the time and big into my dance team. Winning the Long Island Championship. Winning the Nationals. Winning. Winning.
(Am I an athlete? Questionable. A competitor? Hells to the yes.)
To refresh your memory Kerri was a member of the “Magnificent Seven” women’s gymnastics team and was competing against the Russians for the Gold.
(Thanks to the hockey and ice skating movies of my formative years, the 80’s, early 90’s, I will forever be battling the Russians.)
With one rotation left, she badly hurt her ankle. But the USA needed her performance to have any chance at the gold.
“Do we need this?” she asked her coach, because I was there intensely battle the Russians. (Ok fine, it says so on Wikipedia.) And the coach said yes, “you can do it. You better do it.”
Kerri does the vault with her broken foot and sticks the landing before collapsing to the floor. And oh, what pain she was visibly in! And the coach comes and scoops her up and carries her off the mat, and she wins the gold! She won the gold for American with her broken foot!
(Oh, the tears, give me a minute, I’ll just, yup, hold on…)
I don’t know what the point of sports is, anymore or less than I know what is the point of anything.
I do know that watching a performance of a girl persevere through a broken ankle is something we can all, believe it or not, relate to. We’ve all felt at times that we can’t get up, we can't go on, and then we watch and see, we SEE, that we can.
We can get up and try…to hit the ball over the net…to write a book…to not burn dinner…heck, some days I’ll settle for simply getting my family all out of the door…
"What is time, really?" Craig Sager said beautifully in a speech Wednesday night at the ESPY awards, accepting his Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
“Time is simply how you live your life…”
God bless these athletes for showing us, reminding us, inspiring us, that great things can happen at anything we want as long as we get up and try.
Live on, Happy Time Wasters, Live on,
Watch the Kerri Strug video here
Watch the Craig Sager speech here
My blood boiled in anger as I peered into the backs of their two gray heads.
Granted they had no teeth, and were no less than 195-years-old, but still, forget respect for the elderly, what they did was wrong. They cut me on line at Michael’s, and you know what a nightmare those check-out lines can be.
I shouldn’t even be here! I internally berated myself, even before the interception by the centenarian Bonnie and Clyde. I begrudged the two fake palm fronds I held limp in my hand. I should put a real palm tree in the corner of that hallway, went the admonition, but I want that area to be seasonal. (To think of the mental state of one for whom a plant is stressful because it’s too permanent, as well who devotes time to decorating a corner as if it were on display at the White House, adornment for not two five year olds but Heads of State.)
When spring comes, I want cherry blossoms, and for Christmas, a tree. Come fall how nice would be hay bales, and in January white birch…O. M. G. SHOULD I JUST PUNCH MYSELF IN THE FACE NOW, OR LATER??? (These were my actual thoughts, standing ten deep at Michael’s behind people returning yarn, 12:30 p.m. on a 90 degree Wednesday.)
It knew it was all such an epic waste of time and energy, and yet, “Next,” droned the cashier, and step, step, up the line I crept.
That is, until, it was my turn, and I was cut off by the couple from the "American Gothic" painting returning, what else, 10 frickin’ bunches of yarn.
“Did you wait on line?” the cashier asked them catching my eye. Before I could respond, even part my lips for an utter, the female dumped the yarn onto the counter and scoffed, “yes, yes” while producing a thick stack of coupons. (It was through the protests of “yes” that I learned, no teeth.)
So, what should I do here, veered my thoughts to a moral direction…
Should I speak up? These people are wasting my time here! And what about the 7-year-old on line behind me waiting patiently for her ceramic paint-by-number figurehead of “Finding Dory?” Who is going to stand up for her???
But then, they are seniors, shouldn’t I show them respect? Shouldn’t I just let this one slide? There already was a lot going on there…the yarn…the coupons…the forced politeness of the defeated cashier … “you said that was $5.99!” “It is not on sale, Ma’am”…wouldn’t saying something cause more confusion and make everything worse?
Tick, tock, tick tock.
How often in these split-second scenarios are we forced to decide quickly, what’s wrong, what’s right?
As a parent, this is scary.
I often recall the times in my life when I had walked the line of danger, say, hypothetically, of course!, I broke into the Penn State pool at 1:00 a.m. and went off the high dive, and I realize, I wasn’t trying to be “bad,” I was being stupid.
In fact so many of these “regrets,” or times I look back on and say, wow, thank god I am okay, all have that common thread:
I wasn’t thinking.
It was so stupid.
I was being dumb.
And yet…tick tock, tick tock…we have to act quickly. Fingers crossed we choose wise.
A woman three behind me huffed loudly and abandoned the Michael’s mission. She had had it. She put down her rubber stamps and was OUT.
It was too late to stop the situation, but I could still say something to the cashier when it was my turn. I could at least acknowledge the cutting. Wouldn’t I feel better declaring, that wasn’t fair!!
And then the Michael’s gods smiled upon us, we plebeians on line/in one of the circles of Dante’s Inferno.
They opened up a new register, and this whipper-snapper rang me up speedily. I was finished while the old couple was still haggling over price. I would now have to walk past them. I could say something to them AND to the cashier!, I thought giddily. I could bust them all! Prove my point! Nay, I could say something so tactful yet so powerful, and condescending! Like, I AM the QUEEN of MICHAELS, you don’t mess with me!!!
—“Excuse me, just so you know, for future, the line starts over there…”--
My pulse quickened as I neared the controversial check-out…
This is it (clutching my palm leaves, too big for a bag, and my receipt)…
Open mouth, declare justice, and…
I said nothing.
After all, they probably weren’t bad people. They weren’t cutting the entire store to be mean. They probably just, didn’t notice where the line started. They weren’t thinking…
And I left the store, sliding my big black sunglasses down from my forehead over my eyes as I stepped through the double automatic doors into the blazing sun, thinking I mean it, I am never, EVER coming back this black hole of time sucks again.
That is, until, next time.
Stay well, Happy Time Wasters. Think, and stay well.