That Old Thing Back.
I had just opened this word processing document and was staring at the blank page and blinking cursor when I decided to look at my phone one more time before commencing my writing.
That’s almost always a mistake.
Social media is a got damn time-suck.
Anyway, I opened Twitter. I don’t know why. But I did. And I saw Trayvon Bromell’s tweet.
The race he’s referring to is Racer’s Grand Prix in Jamaica, his opener and the first time he’s run since 2016.
He ran 10.57
And of course the rumblings are that he should just hang it up.
I found this interesting because I made the decision to live out loud in 2017, and because I’ve chosen to show my life in this way I too have been subjected to those same sentiments.
I’m not complaining.
I know how humans work, and it’s part of the game. Part of the gift and curse of having a visible platform.
I posted a video yesterday of a jump drill into a swimming pool. The entire point of the drill was to get me to delay the rotation of my arms and legs after takeoff.
To remind me to take up space.
To take my time.
Without the fear of crash landing into a pit
And absorbing that impact over and over and over.
It wasn’t really about the landing, or the distance, but the flight.
There was a lot going on there, that you can’t see.
I can swim, but not really.
The facility staff only gave us 20 minutes to do this.
The floor was slippery.
I was being rushed.
I was anxious.
And yet I had to somehow execute the feeling of calm, and time slowing on each rep.
It was a mind fuck of a workout.
And the frustrating part is that I used to be able to do this.
This whole “make time seemingly stop after takeoff” thing.
This wasn’t something I used to struggle with.
That’s not to say that I’ve ever been known as a long jump technician.
I’m just saying what used to be easier for me to access and execute, no longer is. And so now, I have to work hard at it. Because I believe it can be relearned. I do believe I can be rewired.
But throughout this whole process I hear things like: I hope you can get back to your old self.
My old self.
I wonder how many people reading this entry even know what that means?
My old self.
No one out here training, working, going to the office, whatever your THING is, is doing so to be their old selves.
ALL OF US…
are out here working, hoping, striving for something better
for our version of high performance.
Which means you can’t go back.
You’ve gotta figure out how get there under the circumstances you’re in NOW. With the body you have NOW, with the capability that you have NOW.
I want to jump seven plus meters again too.
I want to run sub eleven hundreds again too.
I want to make my national teams.
I want to defend my olympic title.
And the list of things I don’t want…
coincidentally describe my old self.
She’s gone and
even though she made you proud because she won medals and jumped far…
she was NOT a role model.
You don’t want your daughters to be like her.
You don’t want to be associated with a person that sacrifices her self esteem and self worth on the altar of resignation. Even if she did so with seven medals around her neck.
That girl silenced herself in order to not rock the boat and floated through her life aimlessly as if she were tasked to navigate rough waters without a compass or clear view of the stars.
That girl accepted nearly intolerable and unsustainable conditions in the pursuit of the “unconditional” love and support she’s been yearning for since childhood.
And god how frustrating it must be for you
to watch this struggle unfold before your eyes
hoping against hope that I’ll pull it together.
Yea, I feel you. I really do.
But let me try.
Let me work for it.
Let me honor who I am now and what I have now and see how far I can go. Because I know physics doesn’t give a fuck about how much emotional damage and hurt I bring to the track.
I know that.
And I know that the more I keep showing up and keep working to execute the physics the more likely it will come together.
So let me try to do that.
Because elite athlete or not you are in the same boat as me.
There is something, or some area in your life
That isn’t quite the same
That could be better
There’s another level up from here. For all of us.
And you either wake up every day and make the choice to try to access it or you don’t.
And it all may be uncertain but you do know one thing, and that’s that going backwards isn’t an option.
It’s not even possible.
You know that even though this ONE thing in your life isn’t hitting anymore you’ve leveled up in other ways.
So what do you do?
Do you retire?
Do you quit?
Or do you take stock.
If your personal development was a map…
Do you put a pin in where you used to be in order to start navigating to your final destination?
Or do you put a pin in where you are currently?
And if you note that you are actually currently pretty far from where you used to be, is that license to not start the journey toward your final destination at all?
My old self…
and the performances she was able to produce under extreme circumstances are not even on this map.
So you’re stuck with me.
Yea, this version.
And while I work towards this goal and regress and progress you might actually feel like I should just give it up…
that I should let it go
but what’s it to you for me to give up on myself?
Let’s ask the question in the reverse: what does it do for me to tell you to give up on yourself?
To encourage you in abandoning your pursuit of being better, doing better, feeling better?
I want you to know
that you’re here on this planet to take up space.
And that whatever it is you’re doing, at whichever scale it is
to someone that can relate to you.
That’s looking up to you.
That felt lonely as hell until they ran into you and your story.
You might not even know who they are.
You owe it to them. And most importantly to yourself to not give up,
to not abandon your pursuit of better,
even if you’re surrounded by people who wish you’d just go back to being your old self.