My mom and I were watching the Olympics last night, and sucking in our breath as gymnasts wobbled and tottered on the balance beam, then righted themselves only to run for another pass of flips, twists and turns that I would not ever even attempt for fear of breaking my face. I said to her, “I think that’s the amazing thing about world-class athletes: They can make a huge mistake, shake it off in split seconds, then run for the next challenge. Or how they can lose it entirely, then get up again and go to the next competition. They don’t focus on the failure. They just focus on the next challenge. They really understand living in the moment.”
How many times have I let a failure or an embarrassment keep me from trying again? Or worse, how many times have I let fear of failure or embarrassment keep me from trying in the first place?
I was watching these little girls wipe out on their apparatus, huge failings in the eyes of the audience and the judges, and still keep going. I wondered how strongly the flight side of the fight-or-flight coin would influence me in the same situation. How much easier is it to just bolt and run, than to finish? How badly would I just want to hide my face, rather than to set my jaw and show the parts I am capable of completing? I think I actually learned something.
My former chiropractor, Bob Deering (who is only former because he and his lovely wife moved their practice to New Mexico), noticed that I always used to walk with my hands in my pockets. He gave me a little coin with the word “fight” on one side, and “flight” on the other. I was supposed to keep it in a pocket to remind me to stay out of my pockets. It became a little OCD mantra for me while I walked. Fight or Flight. Fight or Flight. Fight or Flight.
It never occurred to me to turn that into a question. But, I think I’m going to take some time to consider it as a question and apply what I learned watching the Olympic athletes to my doings. Can’t hurt, can it?