Monday, July 12, 2010

How It All Began: My Brother the Pimp

It all started when my older brother said to Drew, "I betcha my sister can beat you in a running race"!

Drew was our nemesis: a complete ass of a kid, a year older than my brother and three years my senior. He bullied his way into our street hockey games, soccer games and tennis matches and sapped the fun out of each one!

My brother has always known how to monopolize on a potentially lucrative situation so here I was: 7 years old in rolled-up, hand-me-down bell-bottoms, being pimped out as Speedy Gonzalez to win a bet (a percentage of which I am still waiting for)! .. with this innocent bet, my life as an athlete began .. and my brother's life as successful entrepreneur was, apparently, already well on its way!

The race was scheduled for Friday morning before school. Starting line: at the light post, finishing line: the corner of Galsworthy. All the neighbourhood kids gathered to watch it go down. Some lined the finish to marshal a possible tie, others lined the course. My pimp-ass brother was in charge of the start.

I remember feeling pressure - a sense of expectation, as if all the onlooking kids were depending on me to get back at Drew for all the childhood bullying he had inflicted - but after a quick "READY, SET, GO!" the feeling of obligation seemed to disappear and all I was left with were my legs, my breath, the moment and the goal: RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN AND COME IN FIRST!

As I came into the home stretch significantly faster than my opponent, my mind began to register the cheer of the crowd, the fatigue of my poor little legs and my heart pumping out of its small chest cavity! Winning was both gratifying and. frankly, unbelievable!

Its fun to recall being a kid: there are no obstacles. Running doesn't mean personal bests, heart rate monitoring and training regimes. Running is just running. There is no such thing as performance anxiety, there is just the moment; there are no limitations, only possibilities.

If we are able to embrace it, athletics can be a forum to practice being in the moment: a run is simply one step at a time, a ride is simply one pedal stroke followed by another. The obstacles that I have experienced in athletics (and in life) have, more often than not, been a result of my perceived shortcomings: perceptions created in my own mind rooted in insecurity and fear. Surpassing these obstacles means recognizing the capacity to achieve, celebrating talents AND weaknesses with the ability to feel secure in each moment with each challenge that presents itself. Perhaps simply staying with the next step or the next pedal stroke and allowing all of our anxiety and insecurity to fade away into what is now, will allow us to live in the world of our unlimited potential: just like we did when we were kids.

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