Children who are not athletic usually take a while to discover that truth. Because when you’re young, anything seems possible. Flying is not out of the question. So why should playing ‘Steal the Flag,’ ‘Kick the Can,’ or baseball be so hard? For some of us, it really is.
I’m genuinely clumsy. Ten years of ballet hasn’t helped much, either. When our community choir had dance tryouts a few years back, I was out in the first round. I didn’t mind that much because I really don’t like being on stage. I was just secretly hoping that things had changed. That the act of aging would have endowed me with better coordination. It feels a little ironic, this continuation of my disability.
I’m not competitive, either. As a kid, my sister Susan was always challenging me to races. Who could run the fastest, climb the highest, swim the farthest? Not me. And I didn’t care. I just never understood the point of it. I still don’t like to compete. I don’t buy lottery tickets, enter my name in contests, or take on fitness challenges. Even yoga feels too difficult. Like I’m making fun of myself, trying to twist like a pretzel when just walking down the street with shopping bags is challenging enough. Zumba is an exception, because you can break out in your own moves if the dance is too hard. People might laugh, but they’re usually courteous enough to look the other way while doing it.
Sometimes I think I have a neurological condition, like a mild form of MS, or Parkinson’s. Something that would account for all the dropped balls and missteps. The difficulty in dribbling a basketball or playing tennis. I can’t even folk dance, and we took it every year in gym class.
I get lost easily, too, which may be part of the same problem. To find the right spot in a city or a basketball game feels like a quest. A Lord of the Rings sized quest. That many do it so easily seems almost magical to me. People who are naturally athletic or have a good sense of direction must find my problem puzzling. I feel the same way about people who can’t spell.
In spite of all my klutziness, I always have fun playing. So what if I’m bad at winning games? I’m good at making friends. All you have to do for that is show up, cheer for your team and don’t be a downer. Encourage the people who like to run at the front of the pack. I may be lagging behind but I’m chock full of admiration and ready to cheer all of you in the running. Just remember that, once its over, I’ll need someone to come and give me a ride home. I’ll try not to get the blood from my skinned knees all over the seats. At least, I’ll give it my physically mediocre best.