Too Late For That…

So the Olympics are here… the round the clock world class performances in sports you never think twice about for 3.75 years. And I’m hearing all the “every four years” stories around me, including an old friend of mine who’s been blogging about his Olympic obsession.

Like him, I find myself awash in thoughts and emotions which visit every time the Olympic theme plays and the rings fill my TV screen as part of some far too expensive graphics package.

For as long as I can remember I’ve looked at these athletes and thought “What’s next for them?”. Especially during the summer games when spritely girls who can’t drive or see over coffee tables become the subject of heartfelt mini-documentaries about their grueling schedule and struggle to be a teenager.

16 year old superstars. Or 20. Maybe 25 for the real late bloomers. They arrive at the peak of their life – an Olympic performance. And if they win a medal it gets worse. Now what?

The pinnacle of existence before they’ve even had the chance to find a wrinkle or a gray hair. That leaves a lot of decades still to come.

And I think of the other side. The “I coulda done that” part of every American sitting on the couch eating potato chips while Michael Phelps makes a swim race look like a soak in a hot-tub. Of course we couldn’t, but it’s worse than that…

These Gymnasts are being groomed at 5 or 6.
Michael Phelps was picked at 11.
If your child isn’t in CART Races before the age of 10 then they have little chance of being a world class driver.

It’s like the thoughts I have when working with Zac Sunderland, the 16 year old solo-sailing around the world. If he makes it before he’s 18 he’ll be the youngest ever. Which also means if he makes it after that he’s just…. What?… Well, still a person who sailed around the world alone!

But that’s less exciting somehow ’cause there’s no glory. No record. No mark made in History. It’s too late for that.

I turn 35 this year. I wasn’t a prodigy in any way. If anything I was such a late bloomer I felt like a high schooler in college. By the time I figured out even the basics of college social settings I was out of college, out of state, and out of time to take advantage.

Too late for that….

I’m in good shape… but if I were an athlete any press about me would be asking when I plan to retire.

Lance Armstrong is my age. And he’s the elder statesman now.

Brett Farve was in college when I was… and he’s the new fossil of football.

Milestones and glory already gone by mid-thirties. Claimed. Put away and out to pasture.

When I was a kid I remember 35 being a milestone in my perception. That was the magic number for me. People 35 and up were all… old. I can’t tell you why I latched onto that number, but I did.

And in a month… I am that number.

And it ain’t old.

I feel like I’m in my mid-twenties. But how I wish I was the man I am now when I was actually that age. I’ll probably say the same thing in another ten years.

A lot of life ahead of me. That’s what I think of when I watch the Olympics. I’m watching people ½ my age make their mark on the world and realizing I feel far younger than them.

My best is still ahead of me. My peak still to be climbed.

Whatever I will make of myself. Whatever I will offer the world. I’m not there yet. I’m still training. Struggling. Trying to be in the best shape at the right time for the right event.

And when I get there… I hope I recognize it. I hope I can embrace it, enjoy it, and revel in it.

Cause there won’t be a podium. Or an anthem. Or a medal.

Yet it’s still out there… on the horizon… and I love that feeling.

It’s not too late for that.

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