Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Ready Room

Granted, my involvement in the Olympics is a lot less glorious than those of our esteemed athletes and coaches representing their various countries at these Games. Nonetheless I feel this untenable mix of nerves and stress welling up in my gut. I imagine it's that same feeling our swimmers endure during those last frenetic moments before a race, that time when one has to decide whether the butterflies swirling in the pit of their stomach are ambassadors of excitement or harbringers of fear.

Sitting here in my living room, I'm wishing I could catch one of these butterflies and put it under a microscope, examine it, poke and prod, and come up with an answer. But answers of this kind are too mysterious for reason, too ambiguous for science. Few places other than a well polished mirror house those answers.

I'm doing laundry while watching movies. I'm revising season plans for the fall. Sometimes I wander onto the internet in search of the latest swimming news. In my position I'm required to be armed with knowledge and I'm doing my best to load up.

My living room is now my ready room. Some 48 hours from now I'll be hopscotching across datelines during the 13 hours plane ride from Chicago to Beijing. I'll be wondering if I've remembered to pack everything they say I'm going to need. Occassionally I'll worry that I left something undone around the house and will be powerless to take care of it from China. More often than not I'll wonder what my fiance/wife is doing, whether she's okay, and thanking her for saying okay to this trip. And I'll think about our swimmers, who will be doing whatever swimmers do during those rare lapses in training. I'll be confident they are having fun and hopeful they are staying fit. And I'll be anxious, on the verge of jittery, to have them back in the water.

Sitting here in my ready room with my own swarm of butterflies I wonder about the road ahead, ponduring my own race. Because no matter whether you're about to dive into water, a new book, a new class, a new friendship...No matter which turn you're about to take in life we all need a ready room of sorts. It's the place you go to get it all together, to map out your goals, and to set off on your path.

Where is your ready room? When is your race?

(Don't worry. My musings from Beijing will surely be less philosophical in nature!)

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