Actually, I’ve been trying to perfect it since I was in high school. We were
forced recquired to participate in a quarter term of gymnastics. Nine or so weeks of agony. My ankles have never quite recovered.
Bear in mind that I tripped on the hem of pants and needed several stitches on my chin during my crawling stage of life. A year afterwards, on my first night in a big-girl bed. which rose a foot or so off of the ground, I tumbled out, and needed a few stitches more, this time on my big-girl noggin. My mother’s parting words as I went out the door were always “Penny, be careful, don’t fall”. This waas usually uttered as I tripped over the stoop. Athletics were never in the cards for me.
As an adult, I’ve watched in awe, every four years, as young men and women pummel and balance and travel high-flying rings with grace and incredible strength. Flips and pikes and pivots and landing on one’s own two feet after flying through space in positions that seem quite impossible simply amaze me. Their athleticism astounds me.
I fell, more than once, off of the balance beam, the pommel horse, and the trampoline, fortunately never on the same day. The pommel horse was the worst, with my hands gripping the handles and my feet firmly planted, on the side of the horse. I was suspended in space. It took three classmates to pry me loose.
Each tumble in class, wearing my blue, one piece gym suit with snaps that I regularly prayed would stay snapped, was an embarrassment. Forgetting to turn before dismounting the parallel bars, well, that was quite painful. I walked around with swollen armpits, each arm in an arch, resembling a sumo wrestler.
I had to stand on a folding chair to get up to the traveling rings. Another student would push me while the class would cheer me on “Let one hand go, Penny, and grab onto the second ring”. “Huh?” just as I my dierrier plumped into a wall. The last day of the quarter I did it. I let go, making it, finally, to the second ring. Swinging like a chimpanzee from two rings, not sure what to do next. I dangled there, like a shirt swinging in the breeze on a laundry line. It was the cheer of my classmate at my unlikely achievement that finally pulled me down. I’d like to say I scored a medal. I didn’t.The teacher, however, took pity on me and passed me with a C, simply because I tried so hard and never gave up.
These are often the bigger lessons in life, aren’t they? The trying hard and showing up. The perseverance and stick-to-itiveness. Trying to be brave and carrying on, no matter what.
So, I watch with appreciation as the best of the best convene every four years and they make a grab for the gold. I honor them all for showing up and giving it their best, for themselves and for their country.
Now, I need to go practice my dismount.
Image source can be found here.