Sometimes we can be too hard on ourselves. If we don't succeed at, for example, a sport to the highest level, maybe we think of ourselves as a failure. I certainly did when I knew I would never be the best surfer in the world or the best mountain bike rider. This feeling used to make me want to quit, I forgot the reasons I did these things in the first place. This is the feeling that makes me not want to try new things. As I mentioned before, I guess it's that fear of failing.
I guess it is the feeling a boxer must get when they retire, the question marks that stand over a career, did they achieve everything they could? Does their record really look that impressive at the end?
This used to weigh heavily on me through the years. Anything I did, experienced or lived through, I felt wasn't to the fullest it could have been. Sports, trips and holidays, adventures, relationships. It felt like I missed out on opportunities and didn't make the most of them, even if I tried too. As I mentioned before though, I think all it takes to take stock of this kind of situation, is a shift of perspective.
Sure, I may never surf pipeline, I may never have gone totally crazy when I was in Las Vegas, I may never master dirt jumping on my bike or ride the World Cup trail at Fort Bill and I may never get to play ice hockey for a team or make the A team for my old roller hockey club.
However, I do know how it feels to surf along a clean wave, feeling the sun shining on my back, the wind trying to block my way and the spray washing across my face, the effortless feeling of gliding across water, the energy carrying me at speed and distance, my subtle body movements altering my direction and path. Hearing the Boss hoot as I surf past, carving round him.
I do know how it feels to ride some decent single track on my bike. Being a slave to the hill, constantly shifting my weight and power where needed. Feeling the wind whipping past me and branches brushing my face and body as I fly past. Racing into a berm and being thrown out at a higher speed, allowing the bike to lose control for a second as it takes a corner before being brought back under a degree of control and that feeling of adrenaline pumping as you reach the end. Chatting with the Captain, the Boss or Sampras afterwards, laughing at those near falls, those sketchy moments and feeling high from the buzz.
I do know how it feels to party like a VIP in cities such as New York. And how to lose money at the roulette table in a Vegas casino as friends watch and laugh. I've visted places many haven't and experienced good times that I cherish.
I do know how it feels to play roller hockey in a proper league for my B team. Sure we got beaten regularly and I couldn't cut it in the A team, but I still got to play. And more importantly, I take away incredible memories of playing against the Coach and Finn in their last ever game. For me that is priceless and cannot be replaced.
I may not play ice hockey for a team and maybe my broken leg will always make me wary of lacing up the skates, but I got to see another close friend, Boomtown, play his last ice hockey game here before returning to Canada. It may not have been his best game and I may not have been on the ice, but I still wanted to show my support and that memory will again last a lifetime.
I may not have found my niche in life, you may not be able to label me as anything in particular and I suppose I could be described as distinctly average. But, the memories and moments I shared with these people are much more important to me than how much I achieved or what level I got to. For me, it is the experience I will treasure.
When I look back and think, did I achieve and experience what I wanted, I think I can comfortable say yes. I think everybody can. It may not have panned out exactly how you wanted, but look at what you do have, not what you don't.
Vaya Con Dios.