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When I was in 8th grade I could barely pass the required Physical Education class. Then, in 9th grade I had a PE teacher who inspired me. I don't know what it was about Mr. Vineyard; his infectious smile, sense of humor, kindness towards his students or his own fitness; but he inspired me to make the effort to improve. No "pep talks" like Bill Cosby describes in the following clip, just consistent encouragement.
I started working out in my own free time. Situps, pullups, running laps at lunch hour. I worked at it all semester long. The results were amazing. No, I didn't come in first in some competition - though I could usually place 2nd or 3rd in running a 440 or an 880 yarder - but I did go from a "D" to a "B" in those few months. Mr. Vineyard considered that success, and so do I.
Do you remember the Olympic Summer games of 1992 in Barcelona?
"Unlike Carl Lewis and Daley Thompson, Derek Redmond is not a name that conjures up memories of Olympic gold medals. But it is Redmond who defines the essence of the human spirit. Redmond arrived at the 1992 Olympic Summer Games in Barcelona determined to win a medal in the 400. The color of the medal was meaningless; he just wanted to win one. Just one. Down the backstretch, only 175 meters away from finishing, Redmond is a shoo-in to make the finals. Suddenly, he heard a pop in his right hamstring. He pulls up lame, as if he had been shot. As the medical crew arrives, Redmond tells them, 'I'm going to finish my race.' Then in a moment that will live forever in the minds of millions of people since then, Redmond lifted himself up, and started hobbling down the track. His father raced out of the stands, and helped his son cross the finish line to the applause of 65,000 people. Redmond did not win a medal, but he won the hearts of people that day and thereafter. To this day, people, when asked about the race, mention Redmond, and can't name the medal winners."
These days, I don't enter competitions. My race is against the clock of age and my focus is on being present, diet, and exercise, which if done right have been shown to slow the clock and make the added time more meaningful. Out on the water our objective is to have fun, enjoy each other's company, and improve our ability to manage Bluesette.
I understand those who have a desire to compete, and don't knock it. But one needs to find happiness regardless of the outcome of this race or that, and to appreciate others whether they win or don't. Tillerman of Proper Course displays what to me is a sensible attitude toward racing. He likes to compete, he works at his skills, and he'd like to win. But at the end of the day, win or lose, he knows what really makes his life worthwhile.
Further reading: Psychology Today Why Do We Have an Obsession With Winning?
from which I took the story of Derek Redmond.
Until next, sweet sailing.