Before I came upstairs to write this, I watched a NZ cyclist win gold in the Commonwealth Games road race. It was his fourth of the competition! The race was relentless. There was little time to relax, as the various teams (especially the English) launched attack and counter-attack. He had to pedal furiously to keep up, never give up for 160 kms, and still maintain the strength for a final burst for the win.
Before that, I watched our netball team play England for the bronze medal. I used to play netball, and I was pretty good if I do say so myself, but rarely watch it as an adult. I find it very frustrating. I want to be out there playing, even though my knees are shot, I'm too old (of course) and a little too short (I'm tall but average tall, not netball tall!). I remember though the joy of leaping in the air and stealing a ball (I played defence positions), and it's hard not to be able to do that anymore. So I watched the defence players with interest, marvelling that most of their attempts are missed as the even taller shoots throw the ball through the hoop over and over again (around 60 times in this game). They fail over and over again. Yet they never give up, because the thrill of thwarting the opposition, maybe one time out of ten or twenty, is worth it, and the reason they play the game.
A day or two ago, I watched the high jump. I used to high jump too, though I never had the spring to be able to reach the heights these jumpers do. I am always awed at their abilities to soar above their heads, and know that they have missed those heights in training and in competition so many more times than we know. I see medal winners miss a height twice, then pull it together and clear it, moving on to the next level. It is the sport. I remember one night at our athletics club. My younger sister was practising something else with a coach, and I had to hang around till she was finished. So I went to the high jump, where there were real pads to land in (see this post on A Separate Life) and practised over and over again. I put it to a height that I knew I could jump, yet had never jumped before. I failed again and again. A very cute senior jumper came over and helped me. I tried not to swoon. And I made the height. Yet it wasn't in competition. It only meant something to me.
All of these athletes made me realise that they focus on their achievements, not their failures or their difficulties. They accept them. They deal with injuries, and give themselves recovery time when it is necessary. They listen to their bodies, and their minds.
It reminded me of their courage and the pain and hard work behind their glory. It made me think of my childless life. Rather than giving up, I get to look for the joys of this life. I may be knocked back again and again, with all the "as a mother" comments, and "for our children and grandchildren" political statements, and the bias and the condescension and the worry of our daily lives. But I get to celebrate loving my niece, and not being jealous of my sister. I get to be proud of myself when I'm not bothered by babies or children or parents, or when I stand up for myself to parents who never think about those of us without children. And I get to take advantage of the wonderful benefits of this life. The hard parts don't beat me. And I know, from our interactions, that they don't beat you either. I know that we all get up and move forward, even when it hurts, when we're exhausted. We're survivors. Better than that, we make the most of this life. We're resilient. And that means we're all winners! I hope you know that. And celebrate it!