A Rowing Race Regatta
I rowed in a race yesterday. Two actually. Two rowing races. Down in Long Beach at this really cool place called Marine Stadium.
This was quite the experience for me as a new/novice rowing person.
And here’s the thing. While I am an internally competitive person and expect a level of excellence in what I put my mind to doing, I do not think of myself as an outwardly competitive person. My running and biking and triathlon races were internal. In my preparation before I began. And in my process within each race. How well can I do. Against me. How far can I push. Myself. How fast can I run against the clock in my head.
But this, racing in a boat with others who want to race to win. To place. To beat another team. This has not been my headspace as an athlete. And so this was new yesterday.
And I think I like it.
I think I like it because this being in a boat as part of a team and doing my best as a piece of the whole feels good. I like being in this place of being in community with this greater team of not just my boat(s) but all the other boats and rowers. The Masters Rowers and the Junior Athletes. The young 17-year-old who gave me advice because this was my first race day and he’s been doing this since junior high. The teammate who checked that my shoes were secure. This. I really like this.
And with this, within the beauty of these relationships that I am growing into within this community of rowers, I find that I can still settle into my internal reflection that is essential in every challenge I step into.
I was not sure the environment would lend itself to this.
I was worried this regatta would be too frenetic. It wasn’t. Even with the bustle of so many people and so many boats and getting your shoes attached and the right oars in place and your feet positioned and … go!... There was still a sweet calm before the race. I need this.
I need to go to introspection. I need to sit in my mind and play my plan for my race. In a quiet space.
This reminds me of when I was acting. A lot. For a period of time I was acting a lot. On the stage, and in independent films. Commercials and industrials, too. And this acting, I would stand in the wings and wait for my cue before that sweet moment of drama began and I would be sitting in my mind. I would be in the darkness of the wings of the stage, quiet and alone and sweet and calm. With that bit of adrenalin that comes from knowing you are about to step into creativity in a big way. This bit of adrenalin that propels you along the route from the wings to the stage.
And I got to do this here, too. To sit on the sand with a small bit of sun on my face between the clouds and light rain. I got to step into my head preparation that I long for before any outward manifestation of my creative and productive energy come forth.
The environment that contained this rowing race regatta offered this.
I have always been swayed by my environment. It is why it is so important that I live down dirt roads or long driveways. And that my home sits against the nature of a hillside or the edge of a forest or the sea. I need my feet on dirt and my eye to extend out further than the street. It is a blessing that I have been able to find homes like this. Places that contain me. A container of safety. It is external and it is important.
So this race day regatta—It offered this. And I believe I will do more of this. Because of this.
When I woke up yesterday morning, before this race was rowed, I assumed that I would not. Like this. That I would not like this, racing like this. I prepared myself that I wouldn’t like this.
Yesterday was a lovely surprise. A community of rowers that embraced each other, created space for interaction with each other and supported the space for introspection with ourselves.
The day could truly not have been any better.
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