‘I Never Had a Bad Game’

There is a quote in Once A Runner to the effect that the thing about running is you always know how you stack up. There is a time, clear and simple, and that time is either the best or the fourth best or the 37th best or far, far lower on the list. You know exactly who is better and who is worse. You can not lie to yourself.

(Unfortunately, this is not one of the more famous or inspirational quotes in the book — it’s pretty much the opposite of inspirational — so I can’t find it anywhere. But, this is why the book is much-beloved, despite it’s strange word choices and cloud of general late-1970s sexism. It’s beloved because there is a truth in it.)

I was thinking about that section of the book and how hard it is to hide from yourself in sports. I was thinking about it because it’s actually pretty easy in the rest of life to hide. It’s pretty easy to tell yourself that you’re doing better than you are, to pretend that if this was quantifiable you would totally be #winning.

I am not winning right now.

For a variety of reasons, I have been screwing up all kinds of projects. It’s really rare for me to miss deadlines or drop the ball on work. Things always come together. Right now, they haven’t been coming together so much.

There are a number of benefits to playing sports as a kid. It teaches teamwork and hard work. It also teaches you how to deal with failure, which is definitely why the whole ‘everyone wins’ part of youth sports is funny. (Sorry to let you in on a secret, but everyone will not continue to win the rest of forever.) Because of that I’m used to not doing as well as I want at races, to working really hard and not having it work out. You cry for a day. You evaluate what went wrong. Then, you move on and try again.

Or, if you want to be truly great, you forget that you ever failed in the first place.