Jennifer Neri's Blog

Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch, is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes. But if one believes, then miracles occur. Henry Miller

Hey, there’s some sap on your back.

8 Comments

Okay, let’s get sappy for a moment. It’s Olympic season—let’s put a little sap into all that muscle. For two weeks most people around me are glued to whatever device they have access to, holding their breaths, and hoping their favorites take gold. Stories are being told of how these Olympians do it—how they defeat the limits of the body to perform in this unreached way. And to me these stories are the most important take-away. They tell us what it takes to succeed, to overcome.

olympic rings 2012 (8)

When I was a kid I was an avid skier. In my mid-teens I discovered ballet, and threw myself into it, giving up just about every other physical activity. After a couple of years I joined a troupe and did what we here call sports-etudes, which meant the major part of my day was spent in the studio and I was exempt from most school classes. I danced for 8-10 hours a day. I’d be in the studio when no one else was, I’d be in my dorm practicing, I would even practice in my dreams. As my studies came to an end and opportunities began opening up, my knees gave out. All that skiing, they said, followed by intense dance training. I was given a choice: give up dancing, or undergo a surgery that may leave me worse, possible with difficulties even walking. I gave up dancing.

That was my choice. I didn’t have it in me to take the risk. To these Olympians a choice like that would be a no-brainer: they’d choose surgery. If there was any chance they could continue doing what they like best they’d take it, risks be damned. Insane, some of us would think.

Now, too many years later to name, I’m a writer. I’ve been working on the same novel for too many years to name as well. I’m coming to an end of this novel, a true end. What I’ve learnt in all this process of countless years of writing is that I need the insane. I need the OCD. I need the brutality of perfectionism. I need to push and push, and loose hair and teeth. I need to cry in the dark. And more than that I need the will to keep at it.

The thing all these Olympians have in common is a belief in self. They know they can do it. They don’t care how long it will take, how much practice it will require, how much they have to give up. They can do it. A when they fall, when they injure themselves repeatedly, it’s fine, because they will heal and they will continue until they get there.

And they have one more thing. They have support. They don’t do it alone. They have family, friends, coaches, teams, who believe it them. And eventually they have a country backing them up.

At my kids’ elementary school, they’ve been going nuts with Sochi. Watching the events on Smartboards in classes. All their schoolwork has been Olympic geared for the last two months. They’ve done many written and oral projects. And the phys-ed department posted a YouTube video supporting the Canadian team.

After I watched it with my kids I told them to re-watch it, and imagine that all this was done for them—that they had all this support behind them. That they could do whatever they wanted in life, if only they have the right attitude.

I tell you the same thing: watch the video and imagine that all this is to support you and what you want to do. At the end of the video, all that screaming is to cheer you on. All the banners have your name on it. And when you’re done watching, then go, and do it, whatever it is. Because you can.

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8 thoughts on “Hey, there’s some sap on your back.

  1. GO JENNIFER!!! :-)

    I believe you have what it takes to see this dream come true.

  2. I have been involved in endurance sports for 30 years now. Now, I am training for an Ironman event in May. I have a bad knee am 70 years old, have limited support, and my chances of getting to the starting line are not good. The training wears me out….I want to write too, but my brain just can’t get past tired. But, the wisdom and discipline we get from just the journey is worth all that must be sacrificed. The longer I do this training, more and more are being stripped away from the layers of distorted self-perception. I am finding I can be quite weak, but I can be quite strong. It is all there in the same package…like, I am sure it is with everyone else. And perhaps the greater self-understanding, the great understanding and acceptance of others.

    • Marvin, you are exactly what I’m talking about. From your blog posts since I’ve ‘met’ you, you go, you push, you don’t cave to these weaknesses you speak of. I believe that the word weakness shouldn’t exist. The word implies a negative conotation, and having to accept and work past a challenge is not a bad thing–it’s a great thing. What you are doing is a wonder, Marvin. I’m rooting for you in May!

  3. Thank you, Jennifer, she says with misted-over eyes and a tearful sniff – we needed to hear that, all of us who have been branded lame ducks but know there’s a swan just waiting to emerge.

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