The first tug on the rope I place my foot on the back of the ski and yell “GO BOAT!” I’m out of the water and automatically in a routine – feeling the weight of the boat pulling against my leg, the pads of my hands feeling worn and turning red, my lower back muscles tightening so I can mold myself into the perfect position. This is my body working, and reminding me how good it feels to accomplish something out of the ordinary, something extraordinary.
My first time on the water with two skis was when I was 10 years old, and by the age of 12 I was the Swivel Ski Champion of the East Coast. Sure, kids are quick learners and are a bit more fearless – but going from standing on two skis to performing toe hold 180’s in front of large crowds within two years – it’s clear that I had to endure a lot of training to get there. As I transitioned to High School my swivel skiing slowed down with the emerging popularity of wakeboarding, followed by moving from show ski water skiing to three event in college – but I would continue to get out on the water with my wooden ski once and awhile because there never was a replaceable feeling for being able to dance on the water.
I spent my 28th Birthday this last weekend in Florida – my brother recently bought a boat so my parents willfully hauled my swivel equipment there, and presented it for me our first day out on the water. I was feeling shy and a bit nervous, thinking at best I’ll be able to get up and stand there – if anything – after all it had been around 8 years since I last swiveled.
Reflecting back to the moment I hopped in the water unsure I ask myself – why wasn’t I confident? Here I am, a once decorated athlete, and I am worried about what might be left of my abilities! I think I had just forgotten how it feels to accomplish something great. Sure I’m still an athlete – I ran a half marathon in NYC, I push myself to be better on my club soccer team and work for that extra set at the gym. But at the end of the day it feels like – I’m just another person running the East River Path, I’m one more tap on the ball on the field and another person fighting for space in the crowded gym. None of those things are my own, and none of them put a smile on my face like being on the water.
There is something special about being able to push the limits of your body, feeling unbalanced then mapping out what area needs to work harder to move it all in harmony. I’m guilty of getting bogged down in the daily grind here in the city, feeling that my youth of accomplishments aren’t as relevant anymore if I’m not practicing them routinely while sitting at my desk job. But the truth is – these are the things that light a fire inside me, and I’ve never lost them. I can still fly a plane, I can still conquer black diamonds on the ski slopes with ease, I can still swing a golf club with professional finesses, and I can still dance on water with grace – as I proved this last weekend! I am accomplished, and I want to celebrate that. So … Happy Birthday to me!