I originally wrote this in 2012, when I was just starting:
Damn, I want to be good at this. I really want to be good at this. I have this competitive thing in me. I just want to win. It’s nasty, I know. All my years of Yoga and Zazen and Buddhist platitudes and none of them worked. I still just want to win.
And the truth is, I can be OK, maybe even good, but I’ll never be really good. Not really good. The best that I can hope for is to be plain old good.
This weekend we had Olympic level athletes visit the club. I got to see some really amazing Judo close up. Very close up, in fact one of them almost landed on me. It was unbelievable, and I was entranced. Clean, powerful, fast — and it was joyous
I will never be good like that. If I had started at like 5 AND I had the talent AND I worked obsessively hard AND had the good fortune to escape catastrophic injury AND had a supportive family then maybe, just maybe I could have been that good in my mid twenties. You know, twenty five years ago. [now 32 years ago]
I started young when I rode horses, but it didn’t sing to me and I left too early to be really good. Same with fencing, I left too early. I didn’t really have a sport for a long time, I ran and worked out but it was just to stay fit. There was no winning and losing so there was no juice.
Then I found bodybuilding in my early 30s and it was engulfing, fulfilling, engrossing. I loved it. I thought about it all the time, talked about it all the time, trained all the time. I put on 10lbs of muscle in 8 years. That’s a really great number for a drug free woman in her 30s, but it’s only 10lbs. I was never going to be a real competitor. I was never going to be really great at it. I simply started too late.
Same with Judo and Jiu Jitsu. I can be OK, I may even become good. But that’s all I’ll ever be. I just started too late. But, unlike Bodybuilding, I’m going to have to be satisfied with that. I’m going to have to find, dammit, spiritual acceptance. I’m going to have to be OK with just being OK.
I really hate that spiritual acceptance part. It just sticks in my craw. I finally got past wanting to be more spiritually evolved, I finally accepted myself and my nasty, mean competitive streak. And now I have to deal with it again, head on. Great.
Everybody has a floor and everybody has a ceiling. Your floor is where you start, your ceiling is the highest you can go.
My floor is pretty low. I’m small, I’m not a natural athlete, I’m not very flexible, I have a lot of old injuries which flare up in unexpected ways and I’m starting in my mid 40s (which is when most people stop). Those are all things which lower my floor.
On the plus side I do have good health, I’m pretty strong for a 5″ woman, and I have that “not giving up” thing. But, if I’m realistic about it my challenges far outweigh my strengths. I still have a pretty low floor.
And I have a pretty low ceiling. For all the reasons I’ve enumerated above I have a low ceiling. None of this, by the way, means I’ll bow out of competing.
I’ll compete. Of course I’ll compete. And I might get a few cheap medals, but that’s it. That’s as far as it goes. There are no significant titles in my future.
I have a low ceiling, and that’s just the way it is. But wherever my ceiling turns out to be, I’m damn well going to reach it. And that will have to be what being good, really good means for me.
Check back on Monday for the next installment on finding , ugh, spiritual acceptance when all you really wanted was athletic dominance.