July 29, 2012
I spend most of the day immersed in music and laundry, preparing for my trip on Tuesday. In between I watch Olympic swimming as this is the only time, once every 4 years, that competitive swimming is readily available on TV. From age 7 to 17 I was a competitive swimmer, and though not Olympic caliber I did well enough to keep at it as the main focus of my life outside of family and school. I still have a small stash of medals and trophies that my kids wouldn’t let me throw away when my parents handed them over during a housecleaning spree. No, Mom, these are important! And so they are, just like the Little League trophies and ballet point shoes with the show date written on the sole, remembrances of achievement remaining in my childrens’ old rooms. We are what we dream. We learn from every context we are in. Maybe I wasn’t the best swimmer ever, although I did hold some local records, but I learned that when you touch the wall– first, 2nd, or last– it’s over and there’s no changing things to suit yourself. And that your competitors are also your friends, and often your teammates. So I smile as the local girl gets an Olympic silver and says she is thrilled. And although it’s not televised, I know that the swimmer in the finals who comes in 8th, or the kid who makes the team by the skin of his/her teeth, or even (and this was me) the girl who barely qualifies to swim in the Olympic trials, knowing that there is no shot at the team, that this is the pinnacle dreamed for, I know they are all learning, dreaming, and filing the memories away. Some things are more precious than medals. And these lessons can change us forever.