The Courage to Do What You Love

In 2012,  Lisa Katayama of the New York Times documented her interviews with Kohei Uchimura - 3-time all-around olympic gold medal gymnast - and the greatest male gymnast of all time. (Watch it here). In the video - Uchimura says that the best gift his parents gave him - was the opportunity to continue his gymnastics training even at a point when he was showing no particular promise in the sport. 

In other words, Uchimura loved gymnastics, and was encouraged to continue doing what he loved to do, even if he wasn't guaranteed - or even deemed likely - to be "any good" at the time. 

My parents also gave me a great level of unconditional support in taking up sports just for enjoyment. I truly wasn't talented at any sport, didn't pick up anything quickly, had little coordination, and probably annoyed my physical education teachers and coachers time and time again for not following their cues - my brain just didn't register them! But I absolutely loved sports. So much. 

Reflecting back now, I realise that movement and sport have played such a tremendous role in my life for that very reason: It is the one pursuit, which I half-jokingly call the "love of my life" - that I've enjoyed consistently - despite NOT being "good" at them. Throughout most of my twenties, I had continued pursuing the vast majority of activities (as I did prior) with the aim of being "good at them" and perceived as good by others. The temptation of society, peer, friends and family approval and affirmation - planted in me the belief that a pursuit wasn't worth it unless I was "good" at it from the start, or could get good at it very quickly based on external standards. 

It wasn't until the onset of dystonia and it's disruptive eye and facial muscle contractions - that I found myself HAVING to consciously move my body every single day, multiple times a day, to dissipate the tension and disorientation I was feeling - and make it through to the next hour, the next event, or the next day. In a strange twist of fate, I was in a way "forced" to take back the pursuit which I had loved, unconditionally. In day to day coping and "survival" mode - it made no difference whether I was good at moving my body in the activity I was doing - or not. 

Movement gave me back a little bit of sanity and hope every single day. As I slowly learned new treatments, tricks, and tactics to reduce my symptoms - and even today as I've begun to flourish not just in spite of - but in acceptance of my condition - my training has evolved as well. Today, my bodyweight movement, strength and flexibility training is both an integral aspect of my rehab activities for dystonia - but a true meditation that gives me joy in the moment. 

Ultimately, it took a life-changing acute onset of neuromuscular disorder - to induce, through adversity, the development of increased courage and acceptance which have overhauled my outlook on life. When it gets tough, and on days of smooth sailing, I always take a moment to appreciate how beautiful it is to move - for no other reason than simply the love of movement. 

Is there something you enjoyed as a kid, but which you've given up because someone, somewhere, said that you'd be "no good" at it, or that it was a "waste of time"? Does the thought of that activity still light your heart on fire today, or bring out a hint of the kid inside you? If so - what's the worst thing that could happen if you picked it up again?