Falling Behind

Falling Behind

I’ve been watching race after race of the Olympics. We tend to watch the winners. Sometimes, though, I’ll watch the ones who qualify, but drift off to a lap behind those stellar performances. What of getting to the final eight qualifiers in the world and then still coming in one lap behind the fastest person? Does it feel like you are the biggest loser ever?

I remember one time when I was on the diving team in high school, we were short a man on the 400 team free style on our B team. It was a regional meet and there must have been a few hundred people in the stands. The coach asked me if I would swim just back and forth once. He said, “You can do that, right?”

I thought I surely could do it. But I hadn’t trained one day with the swimmers. And, as you would imagine, I did everything wrong. I started as fast as I could, and by the time I got to the first length of the pool, I had nothing left to give to the last length. I was out of breath, out of strength, and practically had to doggy paddle my way back to the finish. I was completely embarrassed when I got out of the pool.

So, I can say that I know what it feels like to end up last. There is no saying to yourself, “At least I finished.” You simply slink away into the crowd behind the winners into the dressing room and hope nobody sees you or remembers your performance.

The unfortunate thing about today’s Olympic experience is that sometimes you get to see your losing battle over and over again, like the gymnast who went up first on the balance beam for USA last Olympics and fell off on her mount. She was the captain of the team, beautiful, and very talented, but couldn’t possibly live down that moment, when it was on every television for four years. I’ve seen that clip about 100 times over the years. My heart goes out to her. There is nothing she can do, but deal with the idea of loss. I suppose that’s what it is like to relive a moment of pain over and over again in your brain. It’s like a movie that won’t stop playing.

So, I look at my life and wonder what exactly is there in my life that I might have to deal with that is considered loss. Certainly, I have had many downers socially and financially. I have tried at many things. I have had books published with just a minimal amount of books sold compared to a successful deal. I have lost partners to infidelity and anger. I have lost friends to death and some to jealousy. I have lost lots of money when the stock market failed. So, falling behind is familiar. How do you break through and make sense of it?

To me, life is fairly cyclical. You can count on times of prosperity balanced with times of lack. If you’re smart, you save for the inevitable times of the universe making balance happen. As far as friendships go and lovers go, I don’t know a person who has an answer to that. Most people feel relationship is merely a gamble. If you find someone who is willing to take the gamble with you, you are fortunate. Because the willingness to daily lay your stakes on the table is the only way to make relationship works. And when one person decides to go in a different direction, it isn’t long before the roots of the relationship begin to sever. When that happens, the couple dies.

Friendships come and go. I always thought I’d be that kind of friend that would keep my good friends forever. But unfortunately, friendships, too, are relationships. They take two people who are in it for the long haul. It is not often two people want to take the long road with you throughout your entire life. If you’ve found a friend like that, you’re very fortunate, especially if he or she is not codependent.

Falling behind is a mind game. I guess if you wait in the pool long enough there will be another race starting, and you may end up ahead, or having the edge, because you’ve already in the pool and have begun the race early.

Every part of your life matters though: the good, the bad, the ugly, the surging ahead and the falling behind. Every part has a lesson and teaches you about an integral part of your own limits.

Last weekend I had some new understanding about being a crystal in chaos. Even a crystal sometimes loses its energy and needs to be restored. I didn’t blow up at anyone when my family was having all their battles and struggles, as families do when they get together after long periods of not seeing each other. I just seemed to slowly get sucked out of energy.

So, today I went to acupuncture and had a friend work on helping me regain my vital energy for 2.5 hours. I feel like a different person. When you are drained, you need to help yourself. When you fall behind, get help. We are not all self-sufficient in anything. I keep practitioners of all sorts around me all the time, so when I need to call someone to help for a particular problem, I can get back on track and in the race immediately.

“God, help us all to recognize that winning and losing isn’t what we’re on this earth for. We’re here to understand the human experience; to spread love, to be compassionate even when it feels impossible to be; and to learn to be stronger than we thought we could be. Send us the messengers and angels to help us find the truth and the pathway to that knowledge.”

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