Saturday, August 19

1 hr, 4 mins says YOU, GPS.

I'll admit it. When I see the amount of time GPS has calculated for a trip, I take it as a personal challenge. I think about the time of day, what kind of traffic I'm likely to encounter, if there might be any construction, what the typical rate of speed is at the time of day and I make a private bet with myself about how much I can shave off that GPS calculation.

I've mentally noted my personal best and each time I have to make a similar drive, I try to match my personal best at the very least.

I like to tell people I'm not competitive and I really mean that. Now, I can guess what you're thinking given the introduction. Obviously I'm competitive. But competing against myself and a digital device is different from competing against other human beings. And if I were really competitive, I'd be as fit in body as I am in my head. But that requires effort. Overrated.

Years and years ago I was on a couple of swim teams and I was a lackadaisical participant of my high school tennis team. All that competitive spirit was just so exhausting. I liked to play tennis. I liked to win games when I played tennis. I even liked to win whole matches. It was that pressure of playing a singles match that counted for a whole team that distressed me. Too much pressure. If someone beat me when it was just the two of us, they beat me. If someone beat me and my lack of points caused the whole team to lose, ugh. 

But here's the other weird thing and why I still think I'm (mostly) not competitive. I don't like it when the other person is hurt or crushed or upset because he or she lost. That hurts me. I don't like it when my opponent is struggling and I can see that frustration. I know how that feels. So I'd back off, let that person score a few more points or even win a game. I don't have that killer instinct to crush someone.

As I write that I'm remembering a racquetball match or two when I was throwing myself against the wall and scrambling all over the court to get to that wretched little ball. More often than not I was fairly evenly matched against an opponent and, for me, it was mostly competition with myself to get those tough shots. I'll admit I loved something of the violence of racquetball. There was something immensely satisfying about smacking that little blue ball against the wall and having to move fast enough to dodge it so I didn't wing myself. I also loved crashing into the wall and sometimes did it when I really didn't have to. Racquetball was one of the best ways to relieve stress!

I hate to try to play golf. I was okay at it on the driving range until someone started telling me what to do with my hands and shoulders and hips and then there was so much going on in my head about what I was and wasn't supposed to do I could no longer enjoy the feel of just swinging through the ball.

I enjoyed my recreational softball leagues. We usually had some really good players and those we had to let play because it was a corporate or recreational league. So it was as much to play softball and get some exercise as it was to socialize. I didn't like to lose, but I didn't cry in my beer when we lost.

I'm impressed by athletes who have that competitive spirit and drive. Who train hour after hour and day after day to get better at their sport. Who love their sport so much they want to be the very best. And I love to watch them do their thing because I have only the slightest idea of how much it takes to be and become the very best.

Now if there's ever a beat-the-GPS competition. . . . nah. That would take all the fun out of it, at least for me.

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