Mr. Lime has been an athlete his entire life. Soccer, baseball, softball, long distance running, and bicycling have been his main pursuits but he has played a myriad of other sports in other capacities. He has coached soccer our entire married life and Little League, basketball, swimming, and cross country at various times over the decades. He is well-versed in coaxing the best out of his players in spite of injury, disability, or lack of any appreciable skill. That's not to say his teams all have winning records. Most notable among the Charlie Brown-esque teams is the junior high girls' basketball team he has coached for years. He is the first to admit he's working with very little in terms of skill level of players or even knowledge of the basics of the game. Yet he is generally regarded with respect and affection by players and their parents because he is a fair coach who stresses developing skills properly, being sportsmanlike, and enjoying the game.
He married me. I am decidedly non-athletic. In PE I was always among the last two to be chosen for a team (the kid with Downs syndrome was frequently chosen before me). My own father has called me athletically declined. I was cajoled into joining an intramural volleyball team in college and very nearly asked not to participate by the Christian fellowship I represented after I demonstrated my lack of prowess by repeatedly hitting myself in the face with the ball when I tried to return it (yes, my lack of skill apparently strains even Christian charity). I drove a previous boyfriend to rage with my inability to connect a golf club with the ball on the tee. (In my defense he had a rage problem anyway...). Early in our marriage, Mr. Lime wanted me to learn to play tennis so we could play together. He gave up on teaching me because he was still young enough to be in the mode of wanting a partner who'd actually provide some level of competition and I was struggling just to get the ball over the net. I like to think I helped him develop patience with his younger players who display ineptitude. In a rare instance of displaying a superior skill set, I was far more nimble a rock climber than he was and much less daunted by narrow ledges. (He was still young enough to want competition but without being dominated regularly so that didn't go very well either at the time. He's come around since then.)
So we have a jock married to someone who feels pleased when she can walk upright and not trip while carrying a load of groceries. This continued for over twenty years. I did have some successes with weird pursuits such as fencing because I learned it along with a class full of people who had no more experience than I did. What I lacked in athletic ability I made up for in ferocity. I did well in the class tournament until I was up against a guy who was a foot taller than I was and whose reach exceeded my own considerably. I had no idea how to contend with that. Otherwise I was undefeated. That experience was short-lived dude to lack of opportunity to continue. It was also a serious anomaly in my fledgling attempts at anything resembling physical endeavors.
Ten months ago I discovered yoga. I loved it from the first class even when it revealed great weaknesses and deficiencies on my part. This was due to seeing a wide variety of body types present in my classes and even among my teachers, including bodies few would regard as athletic. It was further aided by a core message of yoga, that of being able to accept oneself and observe one's state accurately but without negative judgement. That was a novel but very reassuring perspective which stood in stark contrast to the hyper-competitive mindset so prevalent in organized sports. It also differed from the no pain/no gain attitude, which was always pushed on me by my former chiropractor and boss but has never served me well when I was trying to recover from back injuries and attempting to regain some strength. With yoga I've been able to accept where I was beginning and gently move toward greater strength and flexibility.
I felt I had made some real strides before surgery but of course had to return to yoga with great care during my recovery. It was humbling to have to go back to the beginning but again I was reminded of non-judgemental observation, letting my ego go. I was surprised when a classmate asked me after class one day if I was ok because she noticed I was taking it so easy and "you've always been so strong in class." I thanked her for her concern and explained I was recovering from surgery but inside I was stunned to hear someone describe me in a way that suggested noticeable ability. A later class involved a particular focus that felt really comfortable and the teacher encouraged me to challenge myself more deeply. As she led me to do so and it went well she remarked that she wished these poses were so easy for her. Mind you, this woman can physically kick my butt without trying and had done so the week before. I was shocked to hear she envied something I could do in yoga.
This week when I came home from a particular class Mr. Lime, as is his practice, asked me how things went. I said it was an enjoyable class and that I was surprised to find I was not struggling as much with the particular focus we had this week because I could remember how achingly hard these particular poses were when I began. I could recall not being able to hold them for even half the time we were asked to do so and having to modify a lot but that today I could do so much more than I ever would have expected I'd be able to do...especially with all I've gone through medically in the last few months. I said it was a good feeling to have come this far even though there's still a lot more ground I haven't even considered yet. He half-smiled/half-smirked as I went on. I asked him what that look was for. He patted my shoulder reassuringly knowing I'd need to have it broken to me gently as he said, "What you're experiencing...it's called athleticism."
I gasped in disbelief, "Say it isn't so!"