I had a revelation recently. It’s late in coming, considering. But here it is: I am an athlete. No, really.
In my ecosystem this was simply impossible for the longest time. My father ran marathons. My best friend ran three seasons of track. People I knew belonged to football and softball and baseball teams. They liked screaming encouragement at their teammates from the sidelines and had other rituals that I couldn’t fathom, including caring who won the game.
And if that was athleticism, I wasn’t it.
It was only very recently that I finally figured it out: my longing to go kayaking more often, the way I get lost in the puzzle of rock climbing (even at a gym), that business of walking-forever-if-I-want-to, the immersion of hiking at my pace with my two feet, that’s athletic.
And I am an athlete.
I don’t have six-pack abs or a fat-free body. I don’t wear my ponytail pulled through the hole in the back of a baseball cap. I don’t spray my friends with Gatorade or talk smack or really care who wins the game. I don’t need to.
I like to move my body, this one right here. The one that confuses and perplexes and astonishes and annoys me. The one that dehydrates easily and isn’t as strong as I want it to be. The one that changes size and shape on a weekly basis The one that blessedly (touch wood) doesn’t give me lower back trouble and has always managed to survive whatever I asked it to do. The one that has walked all over everywhere.
This is my body. And I am an athlete.
Are you, too? Claim it right here in the comments or on Twitter with hashtag #Iamanathlete. Tell me about it. What makes you an athlete?