The Shrimpy Kid From Gym Class Speaks Out

I was the shrimpy kid in gym class, the one who struggled to do a mile in less than 13 minutes, the one who could barely bench 20 pounds, and who failed at every sport. The team that got me was always an unfortunate one. For one thing, I never understood volleyball, and was secretly a little afraid of getting hit in the head. At soccer, I was useless, at dodgeball and kickball, embarrassing. Basketball- I would be that idiot who would try and score in the wrong hoop, okay. So sports was never my thing, and neither was personal fitness. The only sport I ever enjoyed was tennis, but even that was a failure. I was on the JV team freshman and sophomore year, but when I wasn’t loosing, it seemed, I was getting sick and missing weeks of matches and practices. And no, it actually wasn’t on purpose. I wanted to be good, to make mommy and daddy proud because they paid for me to take lessons, but it just didn’t happen.

Now, I try to at least be, if not in shape, not unreasonably out of shape. Sometimes I jog, or lift a couple dumbbells, or use the little bike machine in the gym. Sure, it’s pathetic, but it’s not a life of misery. You tell yourself that it’s okay that you’re weak and flabby. Not everyone is born with the gift of motor coordination and endurance. You were created by God to sit in an office for a good part of your life. You’re a writer, so what you can’t run without getting headaches and lung pain and side aches? It’s not for everyone, you have a different purpose in life. 

Yesterday, my dad took me to the golf course for the first time. I’d never played golf before in my life. I thought it was worth a shot, but I didn’t expect much. I even joked with my dad that I was going to hit the ball like two feet. Not even two yards, okay. And in the beginning, that’s exactly what happened, and I laughed it off because that is how I have learned to respond to my own physical shortcomings over the years. It is more socially acceptable than crying. But I tried to listen to the instructor, see what I was doing wrong. And then something magical happened. One minute, I had been swinging the wedge around like a fool. And the next, well, I was still swinging that wedge around like a fool, but I’d hit the ball, and it went up in the air! And after that, sometimes I would make a bad shot, but sometimes, I would repeat the success! Eventually, the instructor left me to do my thing. I could hear him and my dad saying that I was doing well for a beginner. And I had a feeling that they weren’t just patronizing me to make me feel better. I mean, maybe they were patronizing me, but maybe there was an inkling of truth to that patronization as well. You have to understand, that’s not something I’ve ever experienced before, hearing an inkling of truth in patronization.  

So maybe I’m speaking too soon, jumping to conclusions. It could have just been beginner’s luck, God feeling sorry for me, a number of things, really. But at least I got to feel it for once in my life, and that’s something special. I got to get lost in something and forget everything but what I was supposed to remember. 

Well, now I suppose I understand why God didn’t make me an athlete. I can imagine that it’s easy to get whisked away in a cloud of adrenaline and endorphins into worldliness and pride, forgetting the Creator and identity. That is something to be on guard against. Maybe God made me a writer because it’s easier to be humble. How can you puff yourself up when the world is scoffing at you and when there’s no one to see your work, and the odds are against anyone seeing your work? Well, that’s enough of that comparison.




Gravity: A Movie Reviewed and A State of Mind

As you can glean from the title, I saw the movie Gravity today. Half the time I believe I was cringing or making very unattractive faces. It really “pulled me in” (pun not originally intended) because the acting was good, and the sense of tension and mortal terror that they were going for was achieved. I knew what was going to happen in the end, but I just couldn’t help wondering, questioning, feeling. I even got reasonably close to crying one time (and I actually don’t cry much in movies, even though I’m such a sap).

I thought it was funny how you could hear sounds when the things were crashing in space. It was not true to science, but I see why the director did it. Without the sound, something just would have been missing, because we as humans are so accustomed to sound.

And here’s the part where I, without shame, try to relate the movie I saw with my personal thoughts. Why am I such a girl? Can’t I just talk about an action movie without getting all weird?

Gravity. The laws of physics that we naively believe govern the natural world as independent entities that came about through their own means. The laws of society that can seem almost as strict.

I never really learned to use those things to my advantage. I am graceless, uncoordinated, awkward. Just today I picked up tennis again. To be fair to myself, I haven’t played in a long time. But I performed badly today, either hitting the net or hitting homers a solid portion of the time. Not that I was ever much of a pro, yet it’s the only sport that I have potential for being passable at. So I think I’ll give it a shot. Ugh, another pun.

I’ve never had good posture either. I just kind of let gravity do it’s thing to my body. Not to mention, I’m not exactly a walking embodiment of physical fitness either. I always feel like something is weighing me down, keeping me from getting in shape. I think it’s just a lack of willpower.

And with people. I want to be diplomatic, funny, and charming. But my own nervousness and fear of being dull, jerky, and uncomfortable holds me back. I let the pressure, the “gravity” hold me down instead of letting myself be grounded by it

When things aren’t going well, I like to think about heaven, an ideal world with beautiful views and no worries. I like to think that I’ll get there, Jesus will hand me a pina collada or something, and we’ll shoot the breeze in this perfect paradise with puffy clouds, islands and classical architecture. And then I’ll meet all the people who weren’t too fond of me in this life, the people that were too cool for me, the people who gave me charity, and everyone else, all the colors of the rainbow, and we’ll all hold hands and laugh together and dance around in the most beautiful harmony.

I think that my idea of heaven is a little distorted, but that’s okay. I guess I’ll just leave it up to God to decide what He likes. And it shouldn’t just be about the atmosphere there anyway, the most important thing about it is that we’re spending eternity with God. Chew on that. But what I should be focusing on now, is what I can do while I’m here on earth. And yes, there’s no guarantee that I’ll be here long, but that doesn’t mean that every second is not a gift, to be used in the best way possible. So maybe it would behoove me to try and be comfortable in my own skin, to get acclimated to this thing called gravity, and fine tune my skill at defying the norm (but in a way that is productive), while at the same time, learning to love the individuals that comprise this world that is both surprisingly orderly and excessively crazy.