Last night, I watched a bit of the Olympics: first the women's synchronized diving and them some floor routines from the U.S. Women's gymnastics team. Even though I never trained to be a diver or a gymnast, watching these bits made me feel deeply, oddly inadequate. And old--did I mention how old I feel?
I wandered away, and my spouse called out, "There's hope for you yet. Here's a woman who's doing her 7th Olympics."
We calculated that she must be 42 or so, if she did her first Olympics when she was 14. I can't imagine still being able to compete, even if I was ready to compete when I was in my teens. I think that's what makes the Olympics compelling--these athletes likely have their one shot at being Olympic champs, right there, and we get to watch.
I suspect that most audience members are not like me--they do not wonder about roads not taken. And why should I wonder? If we're being realistic, the Olympic road was never one that I could have taken--that crossroads was never mine.
I feel incredibly fortunate that I can practice my various art forms deep into old age. I don't need fancy equipment--I can do what I love with a pen and paper. I can work in a group or I can work alone--unlike those who work in the performing arts. I can work with huge swaths of time or little bits here and there.
Both days this week-end brought late afternoon rains, so we could sit on the front porch for the first time in ages. I did some crocheting, I reacquainted myself with the mandolin, and I finished a poem that I started last week. It was delightful--much less stress than being an Olympian.
But maybe my Olympics inspired inadequacy should work as a goad--I could push myself a bit harder, even if it's only to get better by a fraction of seconds. Some times, that fraction can be the difference between not winning at all and breaking a record.