On another note, I have actually graded ALL of my senior class's essays. This might be a record for me in turn-around time, but before I become too pleased and smug with myself, I have to admit that they don't count for a grade. Still, I would like to think that this action might counter-act my "bad teacher moment" yesterday.
Enough of the tangents - the topic at hand: sports as life metaphor. Yes, it's cliché and overwrought to resort to this pat and easy metaphor, but I'll get over it. I'm not much of an athlete myself, being more accident-prone as an adult than anything else, but as I've recovered from surgery last year and found renewed pleasure in running and have even begun to enjoy cycling a bit, I can't resist the temptation to delve into this territory.
So, here it goes: For the first time in YEARS (maybe ever), I'm finally able to do the downhills. When I say "do" the downhills, I mean attack them and/or sit back, relax and let the moment carry me along. Either way, it's a fairly new sensation, both in terms of my running and biking experience and also in terms of my life experience!
Let me explain:
Running has been a no-no for the past 6 years, pretty much. While I tried to run consistently a few years ago, I realized that my body (knee) could not take the pounding. An operation and a year later, I have the strength and stability to head outside for an easy run around the neighborhood or I can try to push myself a bit harder by tackling horse trails and some wicked hills. Last week, while I was running up a hill, I came to the crest and started down it. In the past, the downhill was actually MUCH more problematic for my knees and psyche than the uphill - this was the terrain that seemed to trip me up, where I felt much more off-balance. Tuesday afternoon, however, I just cruised downward and enjoyed the speed that I gradually picked up. I don't know if I can quite describe the freedom and excitement that I felt by my full "embrace" of the hill.
Recently, the same sort of thing happened on my bike. When I gave up running a few years ago (before surgery), I decided that I should transition to biking. It hasn't been an easy "fit" for me, and I still sometimes struggle mentally when I ride. Rather than just enjoying the experience, I hear my drill sergeant's voice shouting out commands: UNCLIP NOW!!! SHIFT GEARS, SHIFT GEARS, SHIFT GEARS. PRACTICE LOOKING BACK. And the main one: RELAX GOING DOWNHILL! That final command always eluded me - I felt a bit terrified going downhill. On my most recent ride, however, I found myself looking forward to the downhill, excited to get into "my drops", able to enjoy the momentum that pulled me along. What a freakin' difference!
And so, what does this have to do with life?!
I think that I'm finally able to enjoy the downhill moments - whether it's losing myself in a moment that just pulls me along or whether it's leaning into the downhill all on my own, the "easy", fast, fun moments don't pose a threat to me. I don't always have to be working but can sit back and enjoy life.
I know, I know, this could turn into "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handy at this rate. But it has been a pretty big realization for me, and I'm content to revel in it for a little while.