On Being Athletic

I am not an athlete. Never have been, most likely never will be. PE was my least favorite class in both junior high and high school. I dreaded those presidential physical fitness awards we were forced to endure each year. I was never able to throw a softball the required distance (far, far from it). I couldn’t run fast enough. I couldn’t do sit-ups very well. Flat out — I was a pretty poor specimen of physical ability, grace and stamina. I accepted my lot in life and never agonized for very long (if at all) at how much I sucked at anything athletic.

Fast forward to my courtship with Bill. He was a star athlete and is good at almost anything sports-related. Because he loves golf I was determined to try, to really TRY to learn. And a funny thing happened along the way. I discovered that when I gave a good, solid effort and listened to my husband’s instructions on how to hold the club, how to swing the club, how to put, how to chip, how to play — when I really tried — I was occasionally rewarded with a decent shot. Not every time of course (golf is frustratingly like that) but enough to make me want to keep at it.

This was a revelation to me. I’ll never be a gifted athlete but to realize that I can participate in a sport, in some kind of physical activity and get something in return for my effort — well, if not life-changing this was pretty darn close.

I recently joined Lifetime Fitness, primarily to take up swimming – again. I reluctantly add the word ‘again’ since I don’t wish to mislead anyone into thinking that I vigorously applied myself to this activity when I was younger. Not true. I enjoyed swimming and going to the pool when I was a kid but as with anything sports-related I never really applied myself. Being a little older and maybe a little wiser I now find myself wanting to try. I swim the 25-yard length of the pool, stop at the wall, and my heart is pounding in my chest. But, strangely, it feels good. Gliding through the water feels amazing. And I keep going. I’m actually applying myself. I’m on the cusp of doing something ATHLETIC. It’s powerful stuff and when Bill picks me up afterwards I’m actually a little giddy.

I’ll never be an athlete but maybe, just maybe I’ll enjoy the effort it takes to work at being one now. And I think that’s pretty neat.

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