September 10, 2017

I am an Olympian

I deeply believe, to a point, that hidden memories can sometimes be crucial to good mental health. Perhaps the brain shuts down to protect you from the good, bad and ugly. Or, maybe not. 

When a memory erupts through our consciousness - a period of quiet focus follows with either pain, delight, tears or a smile.

As a child, my dream was to be an Olympian – I ran barefoot through the school yard … fast. I entered races, ran the track at the local community college, and was tireless. But, alas, a “true” Olympic caliber runner would be able to circle me at least twice and still easily beat my time, but I could dream. No one could take away my dream, except for me.

Years passed with an occasional heart tug at how quickly my goal of the Olympics was extinguished, perhaps through lack of support, environmental or monetary issues, or my own abilities. But, I did think about what my life would have been like as an Olympian and figuratively kicked myself for not working more diligently toward that goal. In reality, it was unattainable as my body was not of the lucky "fast twitch" type, but in my heart I was on the starting line.

One day I shared this regret with one of my daughters. I'm sure I admonished her to grab hold of life and she could do anything she set her heart on, yada yada yada. She blurted out, rather defensively if I remember, that I had been an Olympian.


In the flash of a nano-second, the memory surfaced - sharp, clear, real - I had been an Olympian.

For my entire tomboy life, I was deeply in love with fast-pitch softball, living and breathing the sport, even having the honor of being voted the "Most Valuable Player" multiple times.

One day I arrived home to a mailed invitation - I was selected to compete on a softball team in the Mid-Michigan Olympics. Of course, I did compete, played shortstop - my favorite position - and don't remember if we won or lost ... another deep memory hidden. Nevertheless, I was an Olympian, not in running as I thought but achieved my dream. 

It is a mystery to me exactly why my memory shut down on that particularly exciting achievement, and not just for a short time but for years. Memory sure is a puzzle, isn't it? What memories could you be hiding?

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