I was always fascinated with the long distance track events on TV. Mostly they were dead boring.
Long, drawn out chess games played by sweaty, moving stick insects. Not very attractive at all really. In fact part of the fun perhaps was to morbidly watch just in case one or two of the emaciated runners would at last keel over due to the loss of the last few micro-milligrams of sinew, skin and bone which, having finally run out, would leave only a folded heap of skinny sheets and sticky bones on the track where there had once, only seconds before, been an athlete.
But the faithful camera crew would keep the attention of the viewers, following the front runners as they jostled for supremacy, tripping, scratching, clawing, willing themselves in front of each other.
Be that as it may, what really got me interested was the actual winners whom you never really saw featured until almost the closing lap. It would seem as if each lap would go by uneventfully with only the over excited commentators trying desperately to predict who was in front and who not, desperately trying to avoid a self-induced cardiac arrest. Their verbal frenzy would escalate as the first place runner position would change hands every few seconds. With great effort and severe pain the runners would press, even claw for that front spot.
… and then suddenly, often at almost the very end of the very last lap, the winner would burst out of nowhere, consume the last stretch to the finishing tape, and in the process devour all the opposition as they rolled on home to victory and glory.
The remaining vanquished athletes would stagger and stumble over the finishing line, exhausted and spent, often collapsing into a flood of tears, sweat and mock disbelief as the camera’s whirred as close-ups captured the anguish and the trauma.
“What the….?” Hey!!” ….”Where the heck did he spring from?” seemed to be the cry on the lips of all. The now hoarse commentators would also follow the masses with the same exclamation. After all, this is journalism at its best and sensation and emotion, not truth sells!
The answer to the eternal “W.T.F.” question actually is deeply woven in the fabric of truth. It’s mostly an extremely quiet presence but when it speaks, it speaks loudly and clearly. The mystery and origins of this illusive voice is very clear for the initiated, the astute and the wise, but completely overlooked, even invisible to the thronging, distracted masses.
You see, the reality is the winner was there all the time. It’s just sans the huffing and the puffing. Their neck arteries never bulged and they refused to watch the big screen close-ups. They never played to the cameras with bursts of wasteful, inefficient speed or attracted attention by pulling vests or bumping someone to the left or the right, … but they were there, tucked away usually somewhere near the rear of the pack, mostly waiting patiently and storing up the needed perspective and energy for the right moment. They didn’t look like much at all, they seldom ever do. They’re not in any way media friendly, no froth and bubbles here, …. but all along they were just steadily ticking over, getting their timing sorted, doing a lot of intelligent waiting, breathing, thinking, pacing, believe it or not – even resting.
Oh, I think I forgot to mention that they were mainly waiting. Waiting for that right moment. Not just any moment, but that right moment.
Now nobody knows what the right moment is. It’s not a science at all. Perhaps it’s beyond science. Yes, there is a lot of science in the preparation, in the training, in the diet. But that starts months, years, even decades earlier. You see, the right moment is felt, but not felt with hands or feet only, although feet and hands are fairly important in the life of an athlete. The right moment is felt sort of by osmosis if you will. It is absorbed from everywhere, the athletes around, a knowledge of the form of these athletes, the texture and lie of the track, the psychology of all the participants, the temperature on the day, the emotions all round, the energy levels as they ebb and flow, even the winners inner rhythms and energies, inner timing, the competition as it swells about, the inner motivations as they too swell about, the spectators, the value of the prize, the lessons of previous races, even the next race, and much, much more. But most importantly the winner waits, he waits patiently.
Unlike so many who eagerly participate but seldom if ever win he does not merely make it through each lap by the skin of his teeth searching for that mysterious energy boost for the next lap that he is sure will come as the chalk line is crossed. He does not grit his teeth just to get to cross that line and then reminisce the previous lap by singing auld lang syne, huddling over a few drinks with the other runners, making new lap resolutions in the hope that they will all magically leave their exhaustion and fatigue at that spot and put on a new, fresh pair of legs for the next lap all the while making yet another withdrawal from that mystical 110% effort they promised themselves, their coach and all the onlookers in TV land.
You see, the real winner is not beguiled to try give more than he’s got just to finish each lap ahead of the others. No lap is underestimated but his eyes are always on the finishing tape, not on the lap line. Also, he never tries to give 110% as he knows he only has 100% so he works his 100% well and simply spends it wisely and then, if his time has come, and if he has added to his quiver the wisdom to wait patiently and to be well prepared and ready at all times, at the right time his 100% is more than sufficient to lift the trophy.
May old acquaintances never be forgot
and always brought to mind
May old acquaintances never be forgot
for the sake of perfect time!