Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Just Keep Moving (How Brenda Martinez Inspires Me)

Part of the compelling nature of the Olympic Trials and the Olympics themselves is seeing the stories of redemption. Yes, the people who go to the Olympics and compete on the highest stage of competitions are achieving their dreams, but so many of those stories are filled with redemption. Everyone loves a comeback story, and to an extent, many Olympic stories are filled with redemption. No one experiences a meteoric rise overnight without hard work, and most reach the peak of their sport having overcame different obstacles. Whether it is injuries, loss of sponsors, change of coach, or other training difficulties, the road to the top is scarcely smooth nor linear.
There were a bunch of great stories from the 2016 US Olympic Track and Field Trials, and the ten days of races and events were a lot of fun to watch and read about. It’s also one of the few times a year when I actually feel like I know what’s going on in sports! One of the most exciting and upsetting events was the Women’s 800M Final. A collision knocked some of the country’s best out of contention for well-deserved spots on the team: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYGUDtJvJLo For many, the 800m was their only option, and so this was game over.
 But for Brenda Martinez (who, incidentally has a bronze medal from the 2013 World Championships in the 800m), she is so talented and diverse in her ability that she was also qualified for the 1500m. She managed to go through the heats of the 1500m, just days after her devastating fall, and managed to squeak by and nab a spot on the team! And the crowd went wild as the scoreboard revealed she got it. The best part of this was that the winner of the race, Jenny Simpson, ran to find Brenda, hugging her as she lay on the ground, exhausted from the effort and uttered: “I am so proud of you…Nobody else could have done this.” https://www.facebook.com/nbcolympics/videos/10154821737755329/?pnref=story
It was a beautiful expression of friendship and shared joy of two teammates achieving their dreams together. This wasn’t just a feel-good moment; it represented so much hard work and saying yes to challenges when others said no. Speaking after the race, Brenda Martinez commented: “I feel like it had to happen for a reason. And that’s the way I believe life works, you’re going to get tested. And if people can see what I went through, then maybe they won’t doubt themselves next time something happens to them. And if I can give them any words of encouragement it’s ‘Just keep moving.'”

 Just keep moving. Such an important lesson to take away from this, and it has such broad applications. I recognize that the obstacles and tests, and even stumbles that I’ve had in life are small. However, my professional life as a graduate student has had its share of obstacles, particularly during the writing phase. And in moments of doubt, the previous failures and stumbles have a special way of creeping back into my head at the most inopportune moments. But those failures have been followed with going back to the drawing board, keeping my head down, and figuring out ways to proceed.
Just keep moving. It is so small and simplistic, and yet sometimes such hard advice to follow. I have gotten a lot of writing done this summer. And some days, the writing hasn’t been the most eloquent, but with just a couple of exceptions, I have been writing every day. That is the habit that ultimately so many writers encourage: cultivating a habitual writing habit. It is not always natural, but it is exponentially more natural than it was a year ago, even six months ago. Of course, so many liken picking up a writing habit to a running habit, and I wish it came as naturally! But I have to say, even though there has been mental “soreness” that has come from such intense writing this summer, I feel like I’m finally in the groove with it.

Just keep moving. I am rounding the bend on my doctoral program, well into the depths of my dissertation. The finish line isn’t quite in sight, but it’s getting closer. And the only way to get closer is, just keep moving.

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