I try hard to believe that certain personalities aren’t disadvantaged to others, that my quiet reserve – while being eclipsed by those who are quicker, better educated, more thoughtful – isn’t a handicap. But some days I wake up and that belief simply isn’t with me and my stomach sinks. There are few things that can rescue me on days like this. Head down, muddle through. Stifle your tears.
I watch every race of the Nordic Skiing World Cup circuit. As an avid skier the events hold a certain sway with me, even more so than mountain biking which is my strongest pursuit. There is a level of skill, finesse and athleticism to nordic skiing that makes mountain biking laughably simple. Of course both are difficult to do at the highest levels, but the combination of grace and power in a skiing sprint finish at the end of any distance of race is pure artistry compared to the brutishness of mountain biking. Just my opinion.
So having these athletes here in Canmore during the World Cup is something special to me. I’ve watched their training videos and have seen what they endure to get where they are and I love it. It’s inspiring to me. Yesterday, in spite of some back troubles I’ve been having, I ran and it felt magical. The muscle development of my quadriceps is developing beyond what I always thought my chicken legs would allow. These athletes make me want to be them, to acquire that physical command of my body, and even more of my mind. I want to be in control. I want to race with them and be lost in those moments of lactic acid buildup and oxygen deprivation and complete physical and mental exhaustion. And then the exaltation of the finish.
But as is given my want there is a strong negative to their presence too, and of course that becomes my subconscious focus. The truth that I hold is that I am a middle aged man with injury and weakening faculties. I will never be as strong as I could have been in my twenties, I wasted my youth in foolishness and the brooding of a yet to be diagnosed form of depression. I was stupid, and although even then I was striving to doing something great with writing (I have rarely participated in anything with recreational intent) my ambitions far exceeded my abilities. As strong and fit as I can become at this point in my life, I will never be one of the greats. The best I can become is something good within a very closely defined small pond.
This sentiment gets expanded beyond athletics of course. I spent some time this morning looking for positions I might be good at, where my quiet insights on personal and professional circles might be valued. I’m not particularly brilliant at the technical aspect of my work and I’m not convinced my leadership skills could be considered anything more than emotional gushing. I waver on my strongest convictions like the wind. I witness strong personalities and minds around me owning their moments, exuding confidence and determination. I am in their shadow.
This “unworth” isn’t real, I know this. Intellectually I’ve been presented with arguments and evidence that my abilities are valued, and that this line of thinking is only a symptom of what I consider to be the folly of my very personal human condition. But still I’ll submit this posting and get up from this table feeling worthlessness, hoping that for some strange reason someone of influence and means will read this and take sympathy on me by paying my way through the rest of my life so I can wake up each day and train my body for strength and my mind for the same, and just think and write my days away with intent on greatness and mastery of my expectations.
Today is a rest day for the athletes. They are running through the streets flushing out their muscles. I expect more than a few of them are feeling just as I am and I wish them the best of luck.