Saturday, August 9, 2008

A paper, old friends, and aging

I was reading the freebie newspaper - well, not exactly a freebie since I had to dole out a certain amount for the pie to get myself a copy, and saw this feature about PHI athletes who are in Beijing for the Olympics. I saw familiar names there, friends I've had the opportunity to share experiences with as fellow quartered athletes in RMSC.

There's Harry who's competing for boxing. Sadly, some of our other best bets didn't qualify. Despite that roadblock though, I'm sure Harry will do his best in Beijing same as he did in the Vietnam SEA Games when he won the lone gold for the boxing team (not because the other 5 who competed there was not up for the gold, but let me just say that it was one boxing fight I'll never forget because of how the crowd reacted to the judges' scoring).

Then there's Mariz who's currently the country's long-jump queen. If there's something I'm absolutely sure about her, she's not one to go down without a fight. She's a very determined soul and I know she would have prepared harder than ever for this event.

But what really captured my attention was seeing Sheila's age alongside her name. Sheila's diving skills are such that she earned herself another slot in the Olympics. I think she first competed in Sydney and this would be her second time to participate in the quadrennial event.

It says in the article that Sheila's now 23. I couldn't help but look back to that time I first met Sheila and all the other young divers that were recruited from Davao. They were just a bunch of little kids then who were uprooted from their hometown. For years after that, I've seen them mature not just mentally but in skill and talent as well. These are kids who grew up ahead of their peers. They helped me appreciate that among the many gifts that athletes get to have, it's their resilience in even the most adverse circumstances that I learned to admire most.

Sheila and the other divers have indeed grown. The numbers show how the years have passed by so quickly. In my mind, they were still the same kids I see everyday in the past. Happy kids who know hardships, who value discipline, who are committed, and who persevere.

I think the numbers made me realize how often I forget how old I really am. It made me think of this question I recently encountered ~ How old would you be if you didn't know your age? My answer to that is similar to my Japanese teammate's reply ~ ageless.

I know the numbers but I don't see any change in how I view things. The years for me are just opportunities to be whatever I want to be in every moment I wish to immerse myself in. Ageless is being a soul first before the physical embodiment of that soul. And the soul does not limit itself to judgments and restrictions. Young or old, a soul can be whatever it wants to be.

Today, my age would be of that girl who shared experiences with these athletes years back. I'm the girl who knows that these people who carry our country's flag with pride in the Beijing Olympics deserve all the prayers and support that we can give. I'm the girl who believes that regardless of the results in their respective events, they are already winners. After all, as Baron Pierre de Coubertin has said, "The important thing is not to win, but to take part."

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