Rolling With the Punches

I was dining out a couple of days ago, and the 2019 European Games were on the TV – specifically, the gymnastics event.

I don’t follow sports but I like to watch whenever fortune presents such evens to me, because the attitude of the best professional athletes are worth emulating. After all, they are people who work hard for months on end, and they only get a – slim – chance to taste the fruits of said labour a couple of times per year. The discipline and cold blood required are qualities I admire.

That was the case in one of the performances this evening. The girl was dancing and pirouetting with a staff, and at one point she threw the staff in the air, did a dance move, and when she tried to catch the staff, it struck her hand and fell to the floor.

She was shocked and fumbling for about a quarter of a second; then, she grabbed the staff and got on with the performance  – to, in my lay opinion, a perfect conclusion.

Think of the emotional intensity during this quarter second: in that moment, she lost the competition. No matter how well she executed the rest os the performance, it was such a crass failure that it would be impossible for her to win unless all other competitors made similar gaffes. (And some of them had already acted, and they did not fail.) In that moment, months of work, of dedication, of long days and deprivations of comfort… They vanished into thin air.

What would you have done, dear reader, had you been in this person’s shoes?

What do we do when an hour or a day or two weeks of effort don’t work out the way we want? What do we do when we fail, or when things go wrong?

How long do we weep, do we act morosely, wallow in self pity, shake our fist at the sky while cursing at the universe? How long do we let ourselves feel down, how long until we pick up the pieces and start over? How long do we mourn our shattered dreams, do we weep for our foiled plans?

(Do you know, by the way, what is the thing that both Life and Death equally laught at? That’s right: our plans.)

A quarter of a second was what this girl devoted to mourning. Then she carried on. Although the goal was out of reach. Although all hope was gone. It did not matter. She trained for it. She practiced from start to finish. Later, when the performance was over, there would be time for tears. At that moment, she had started the performance, and she was going to take it to the end.

That’s what professionals do.

Photo Credit: Erin Costa Flickr via Compfight cc