Sunday, August 03, 2008

I resemble that remark

A few weeks ago as I was headed out to the barn I was listening to NPR on the radio, as usual. They were having a segment about the Olympics and had Olympians past and present as guests. It was really neat to hear the different points of view between the guests, such as a current men's gymnast versus a women's synchronized swimmer from the 70's. They talked about the hard work, sacrifices, politics, and economics of getting to the Olympics. I was enjoying the show, until they got a caller named Susan (I think).

She said something like this -

"I just wanted to say that I think that these athletes are so immersed in their sports that they sacrifice their relationships with everyone they love, their families, their careers. I really think it's an addiction and an obsession that I think is unhealthy."

The host asked the athletes for commentary, and they agreed that it took an obsessive personality to push the limits and do whatever it takes to be the best. They were very kind to her and moved on to another topic, but I was pissed. That caller had completely dissed these great athletes and they just let her get away with it.

I tried to call in but didn't get through. Here is what I would have said -

"I'm a horse owner and I ride dressage. I also work full time and raise a family with my husband. Although I won't ever get to the Olympics, I work very hard at my sport and have been fortunate to have a horse with multiple National Championship titles. I find it a bit insulting to refer to Olympians as obsessive sports addicts. These athletes dedicate their lives and work very hard at their craft. I'd call that passion and dedication."

I wonder what they would have said to that? Sure, I've made sacrifices, and I've also joked that I have a horse addiction. But at least I have passion about something other than watching TV, slowly killing my body by eating nothing but fast food, or shopping for shoes. My "addiction" keeps me in great shape, gets me outside to enjoy sunshine (or rain and mud, or snow...) and gives me a fun social circle to associate with.

What do you "Susan"? Any hobbies? Ever been really good at something? Or even wanted to be good at something? Have you worked hard and reveled in the little victories, while still keeping the bigger picture in your sights because you have this invisible force driving you on? Because unless you have, you shouldn't judge those who do.


AnnL said...

Amen! There's nothing wrong with having a passion and having some discipline to follow through and achieve your goals. Most people I know complain about not having time to do the things they say they would like to do, but they seem to have plenty of time to watch an awful lot of TV. Sitting on the couch gets you no where fast! I'm fast approaching 50 and I'm in better shape than most people in their 30s. Having a passion, be it riding horses, running, gardening, swimming, biking, etc., keeps us going mentally, physically, and, most importantly, emotionally.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Well said! I agree with you completely, it is so much better to have a passion for something, no matter what it is. Of course, my passion is my horses, my family doesn't suffer because I make sure everyone and everything is taken care of. Is it sometimes tiring...yes but it's worth it. So hey, there are a lot of us that 'resemble that remark'.

Anonymous said...

I have known people who were Ironman distance triathletes, great parents and friends, excellent co-workers and generous with advice to newbies. I also have known those who were blind to everything but themselves. Being dedicated athletes didn't make the selfish ones self-centered - they were that way to begin with, just as the others were generous and energetic before becoming triathletes.

You really hit the nail on the head in your last paragraph. I'm going to keep it around for inspiration. Thanks for writing.

Anonymous said...

Life is about dedicating yourself to something! Are we all supposed to hide in a corner because being passionate about something is "un-healthy" and "obessive"?

I agree with Ann, these "obessive" hobbies that we dedicate ourself to keep us mentally, physically and emotionally content. That to me is healthy.

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