Ultimate Realization

Certain people have always intrigued me… including, but not limited to, those who do not like chocolate (come on!), those who don’t drink coffee (really?), and those who do not love, or even like running.  Since these three things are on my list of “life favorite,” I can honestly say I am extremely puzzled when people don’t feel the same.  the running haters have perhaps been the biggest mystery to me. Many friends, knowing of y passion, have said things like, “How can you run for hours at a time?” Others have told me that they do run, for fitness, but hate every single minute of it.

Whenever I heard those things, my response would always be the same. I would laugh and then say, “I get it- running is something you either love or hate. Sometimes I don’t even like it, so I can understand how it’s hard if you hate it…” This response, up until today, has been one of my bigger life lines of BS. I didn’t really understand how someone could hate running, but I’d use that line to appease them. In reality, I was so very tempted to tell them that they needed to give it another shot- get some good shoes, good tunes, good running people… then, surely they’d too love it and want to do marathons and other crazy things.

Tonight, however, I came to understand what it means to dislike something so much that every SINGLE nanosecond of that activity is painful. I am not talking about running, but I now feel the pain of those who dislike it. What I LOATHE involves something I once called a Frisbee and would throw to my brother’s dog. This was enjoyable. Tonight I learned that the object I was throwing is actually called a disc. Who knew.

“Disc” is just one of the many terms I learned in my 90 minutes of hell on earth tonight.  Three weeks ago, the first time I played on an Ultimate Frisbee team, I really thought we were just going to toss the disc (FRISBEE) around. Had I known this disc business involved strategy, plays, and a general knowledge of team sports… I would never have signed on the dotted line. EVER.

Back to the run for a moment. I run because it is simple. It involves putting one foot in front of the other, breathing, and moving my arms in a relaxed, rhythmic fashion. The only other people I have to worry about are oncoming runners or those approaching me from behind. I can handle this type of interaction. I go from point A to point B, and guess what… I get to decide how far the distance between those two points is. I determine my pace, if I stop, and the time I run. This, my friends, is why I love it so.

Ultimate Frisbee (why isn’t it called Ultimate DISC?), on the other hand, is not so friendly. Tonight on the field, I felt as if I had been snatched up and placed in the middle of an NFL game with no pads, cleats, or brain functioning. Or maybe it’s more like a soccer game. Or rugby… I honestly don’t know, even after having played in three whole games. When I say I am not wired for team sports, it is similar to saying a cat is not wired for flying, or a two-year-old for cooperating. My mind can’t keep up with even the most basic strategies.

My teammates tried very hard to help me. The OTHER TEAM tried to help me. Yet, every word that came out of their mouths may as well have been Russian…in fact, maybe it was. They coached me, yelled to me, whispered to me throughout the game.  They’d tell me to cut, stack, stall, pull, and stop. Plays were called out in a cryptic language and then I would hear seemingly simple commands like “go deep.” I wondered which way “deep” was. Each time the disc came remotely close to me, I would run for my life… for if I caught it, I was sure I’d take it to the wrong end zone. But wait- you can’t run with the disc. You have to stop when you catch it, and then throw it… for God’s sake.

Finally, towards the end of the night, I decided that I had just enough with strategy. I was going to do what this runnerchica did best…run like the wind to catch the girl I was guarding. So… back and forth I went, until I realized that my willy-nilly jaunts weren’t exactly cutting it either. Apparently, there was some diagonal or straight pattern I was supposed to be following in my defense- or offense- I can honestly say I’m not sure if I knew the difference on the field. Again, I don’t even know what I’m trying to explain.

What I do know is that I can safely say that there are about six million other things in this world that I would rather do than play Ultimate Frisbee. And a root canal happens to be on that list.  No offense in the world is intended for those who do enjoy this game. Hats off to you, and I pat you on the back for your intelligence, skill, and understanding of this complex sport. And, to those of you who have told me in the past that running isn’t your cup of tea… hats off to you too. I respect you for not doing something that is just not that fun to you.

Because, after all… if what you’re doing isn’t fun, then really, what’s the point?


One thought on “Ultimate Realization

  1. Hey! You’ve probably decided never to pick up a frisbee in your life again. But here’s my experience for what it’s worth. You like running and you are good at it. I like running for the same reasons you do. Nobody had to teach me how. I just run. But a year ago I joined a soccer team. I had no idea how to play soccer. It was excruciating. Just like you, I ran up and down the pitch, crossing fingers no-one would pass me the ball because I would lose it for sure. I felt like I was letting my teammates down. Like they were playing with one less on the field. But I love the game so I stuck with it. I learned to live with the fact that I wasn’t going to be an expert right away. I was out of my comfort zone but instead of focusing on how dreadfully I was playing I relished the small victories. “I stopped a pass today!” “I tackled successfully!”. And so, little by little, with the help of my teammates, I started having fun. And, as can be expected, I improved. Marginally. I am still useless on the field. The difference is my attitude. I can’t be brilliant at everything. But nothing’s gonna stop me from enjoying an activity I’m lousy at.


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