Nothing I Can Do About it Now

July 12, 2007

I want you to know that I have an EXTREME natural talent for paddleball.

Filed under: Uncategorized — dregina @ 4:59 pm

At age 7, my parents began, in earnest, to teach me how to tie a shoe. I had coasted along on velcro longer than the average kid. It was time for me to become, in a small way, self-sufficient, and so, despite my lack of interest, the lessons began. 

We spent hours on it. I have memories of sitting on the couch with my Dad and a shoe, my Mom and a shoe, everyone miserable with futility.

Eventually, of course, I figured it out. But I pretended I didn’t.  For a year I lived a secret, bow-tying, double life.  In secrecy, I tied bows with flair. Under the eyes of adults I faux-struggled, tying laces into ridiculous, impossible knots. 

Eventually I was taken to a motor skills specialist who made me sit on a big tube and bat at a tennis ball hanging from the ceiling on a piece of string. I thought, “This is supposed to help me tie a shoe?”

If it wasn’t for motor skills group therapy, who knows when I would have given up the charade. I went once.  We played Monopoly that night, and each kid got to make up one new rule for the game. I don’t remember what rule I came up with. I do remember looking around the table at the other kids, many of whom were clearly developmentally disabled, and thinking, “I don’t want to be here.”

So, a few days later, I walked into the kitchen at breakfast and tied my shoes, to rather undeserved praise and appalause. I didn’t have to go to motor skills therapy anymore.  Everyone was happy. 

This was the same year I refused free tennis lessons from a family friend. Wouldn’t even try, not even once. Didn’t want to, not interested, thanks but no, no, no, no, no.

In both cases, fear was the engine of my adamance.

Over the years I’ve passed up singing lessons, tennis lessons, soccer, baseball, art classes, trigonometry, advanced biology, film-making classes – all of which I wanted to do – because, in my crazy mind, I believed my worth as a person would be lower if I struggled, never mind if I failed.  Better not to try at all.  Better to pretend that I Just Couldn’t Learn To Tie Shoes than to admit it was just kinda hard for me to figure out, harder than for the average person.

Such a smart, constructive approach to life, complete avoidance of everything one isn’t instantly good at.   

I’m writing about these memories today because the triathlon is about a week and a half away, and I’m not as fast or as strong as I’d like to be. I’m terrified I won’t be able to bike up the hills on the bike course, that it will take me more than 4 hours to finish the race, that the marathoner coming to cheer me on will secretly think, “She’s so slow.”

These thoughts are the same crazy, irrational thoughts I have had my whole life, that had me hiding in the coatroom – for a year! – whenever I needed to tie my shoe.

I am doing something I have absolutely no natural talent for because I want to do it, because I want to try, even if I don’t do particularly well, even if I fail.  

Maybe I could have pushed myself harder during this training season, but, when I set the past ten weeks into the context of my life, I have to acknowledge that all of this has been, for me, about learning how to push myself at all – push past my fear of trying, of hard work.

And I already want to sign up for another race, at least as much as I’m hoping I might maybe accidentally break my arm and not have to run this one.



  1. “I’m terrified I won’t be able to bike up the hills on the bike course, that it will take me more than 4 hours to finish the race”

    I keep picturing myself bloody and limping across the finish as they are taking down the decorations and everyone is getting ready to leave. Or getting lost on the bike course and ending up in queens.

    I say just channel that inner totem animal. It will all be over soon. The victory is already yours. You are sexier than Lance fucking Armstrong. Now go sweat some more.

    Comment by seamus — July 13, 2007 @ 2:12 am

  2. You go, Danar. Regardless of when–or whether–you finish, you’re my hero.

    Comment by mmalan — July 13, 2007 @ 12:00 pm

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