Who is an Athlete?
The word itself is derived directly from the Latin word “athleta” (generally used to designate wrestlers, combatants in public games). The Greek language also carries the word in nearly the same form: āthlētḗs, equivalent to āthlē- (variant stem of āthleîn to contend for a prize, derivative of âthlos- a contest).
In my experience, an athlete is one who has wrestled with himself/herself. An individual who has gone to the mat of their own existence and sourced their own strength in those dark places. A person who has attended to the matters of the soul while training in any number of physical disciplines or venues.
When each of us is faced with reality, we have three fundamental choices: fix it, live with it, leave it.
A person who chooses to rise when they fall, a person who quietly and persistently laces up their shoes and takes the first step (and then the next) in everyday life, a person who makes the choice to give their 100% to their own self-maintenance (mind, body, soul, spirit) on a daily basis… this person is a contender for a prize far greater than a medal at any podium.
No mention is made here by reference or by implication that size, weight, conditioning, physical appearance or perceived aptitude of any person can dictate who and what they are.
It is true that the choices we make are reflected and mirrored in our health, in our bodies and minds, in our words and our actions and our capability. Each day that we give to our own Becoming is echoed in everything that we are. Each day that we choose to sit out is etched in our skin. Judging another human by the skin they are in is as futile and foolish and hollow as the mind that allows such things.
It happens. We look down. We look up. We measure ourselves by others because our own yardsticks (or meter sticks) are broken. When we forget our own feet, we look to others for inspiration, for leadership, for acceptance, for value judgment. It’s not wrong, it just IS. In the end, you are who you are. You are the sum of all your experiences, the roads you’ve taken and the roads untraveled.
Sporting a visible eight-pack doesn’t make a human intrinsically more or less capable of any given thing. It only speaks to one person’s choice in what type of fuel ingested and when, focused attention to a specific task.
What we do with the body and mind and heart and soul and spirit we’ve been gifted in this lifetime IS the composite of who we are. Becoming an athlete is not an achievable performance goal- it’s a side effect of choosing to train with focus and consistency, to fuel for performance and to dedicate time and energy to a task or series of tasks.
The better question is this: what brings YOU to life? What allows you to feel alive, fulfilled, passionate, connected and determined? Figure that out, do more of that.
Contend for the prize of knowing yourself. Contend for the podium of life lived out loud. Argue your limitations. Embrace all that makes you who you are. Take the next tiny step. And the next. Self-doubt is your competition, fear is your nemesis and your friend, inadequacy is what’s for breakfast and only you can serve it up piping hot and use it to fuel the spark of your own existence.
What are you waiting for?
There is no neutral ground. We either improve and grow or we lose ground and destabilize.
There are three fundamental pillars in any decision matrix:
Fix it, live with it, leave it.
Life is Now. Choose wisely.