On the outside

Last week I deleted Facebook off my phone. It sounds like a trivial thing, but in the moment of pressing the wiggling icon and confirming that I was okay with deleting all data, it felt like an important decision to make. I was tired of mindless scrolling, of filling hours with comparisons against friends and acquaintances– unintentional or not. I didn’t really make any resolutions in 2019, but I did make a few goals, and this felt like just another barrier between me and those things: writing, mindfulness, reading, travel.

So, a small thing, but a step nonetheless.

In the last six months I’ve worked on finding new motivation. Until now, my workouts were always geared towards agility and goals within the sport—it’s why I sprinted so often, running dozens of miles a week, neglecting building strength in other ways. On those runs I visualized podiums and finish lines. It was a singular focus. It’s taken time to start to rethink that process. I don’t run as much as I used to, because I’m finding joy in other things like spinning and weight lifting. I’m not sure exactly when the changeover began but it was a gradual process where the visualization during these times was less about agility and more about smaller, personal goals. About strength and endurance as a whole– not just with an end result in mind.

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I haven’t written as much here as I used to. There’s a number of contributing factors for why– the lack of competitive agility being the primary one. But I think it’s more than that. In a lot of ways I felt like I no longer had a voice that mattered, I was more on the outside than I have been in a long time, sort of watching from the sidelines, afraid to jump in and risk disappointment and failure. Over the last years with Bolt, I’ve been propelled by the anticipation of events. The time leading up and preparation for it, the event themselves, the decompression after, and then the planning for the next. It was constant motivation, constant planning, and it defined my year– and life. When those things suddenly dropped off the schedule altogether, it was like the worthiness of my words did too– although I don’t think that’s true anymore.

Most of us will experience it at some point, unfortunately. This weird middle ground where we’re both coming and going simultaneously– where maybe the sport doesn’t hold as much of the same magic it used to. I’ve been fighting to find it again, knowing somewhere deep down, that I may not. I still love it, I still enjoy it, but it’s changed over the past few years and that’s just a new truth to accept. I don’t think I’m as much on the outside like I did before, but rather just in a different phase, as are many of my friends. In some ways I think this is a more important time than ever to capture these thoughts– even more so than in preparation or following an event.

This feeling has never been more clear to me than over the last week where I both booked a flight to San Jose (the city WTT is being held in May) but also looked for alternate plans over that weekend, just in case, I said. In case. In case I don’t try out at all– because that’s still a very real possibility. I haven’t entirely made up my mind on how I want this year to look. I’ve been looking at things to do in Finland (in case) while also planning a 10 day trip to Italy (again, in case). Certainly not a bad back-up plan, but a back-up plan nevertheless. In the past I would have never considered that, it was always The Goal first and foremost, there was no back-up.

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Bolt is turning 8 this summer which is a scary sort of number to me. It’s on the edge. It’s the signaling of winding down, of a career that is closing in on the last of it’s best. A career that I don’t feel I’ve upheld as well as I could have or should have, what with spending so much time learning how to trust more and fear less. It’s a time of more decisions for us as a team, on what’s best for my dog and listening to him and trying, as always, to do what is best for him. I’m grateful for the ability to make that decision for him and I know that for others this conflict would be one they’d give anything to have. Perspective.

Do we have it in us, one more year to pour our hearts into this sport together? Maybe. Maybe not. Am I less of who I am or Bolt less of who he is if we don’t? Not at all.

The weird thing is, it doesn’t hurt like I thought it would, this unknown. I’ve never been so truly okay without knowing what’s coming next and for having less of a plan than ever.

Yet, I still booked the flight.

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4 thoughts on “On the outside”

  1. You continue to amaze me, Meg. If one is still evolving, there will be change. If we’re lucky and careful, that will never end. And when one reconsiders their priorities while they are still winning or writing well, there will be good people who become concerned, think you are quitting, giving in, losing something. They will feel a need to tell you to keep on as before.
    They mean well but they can’t know. Only you can know whether the change that’s nudging you is a good one. And so far, you haven’t been wrong about any of it.

    1. Thank you for this, Nicci. I feel well-guided by intuition, I think the only concern is there may be regret in some chances left untaken. Then again, that could be said about travels left undone, and stories left unwritten, right?

  2. To steal a Covey theme, it sounds like you might be struggling to determine if the ladder you’re climbing is leaned against the right building. Best wishes as you figure out your future direction and focus. I mostly quit agility (only at the beginner level, not competitive like you) due to a quad injury. The injury is mostly healed after a very long recovery time, but in the meantime I realized: agility is not that much fun for me; I was neglecting friends and family; I was missing out on my grandchildren. I discovered Barn Hunt, which is fun for me and my dogs, and started reconnecting with family, friends, and church. Good luck and good focus as you think and evaluate.

    1. Hi Mike, this is a great analogy for where I find myself currently. I don’t see myself leaving agility, but I do think some time away from the hyper-competitive environment is a healthy thing to do. My young dog will hopefully be competitive in the future and so I may create goals with him in the coming year. In the meantime, I want to be sure I’m doing all I can to enjoy the time Bolt and I have left in the ring together.
      Glad to hear you discovered barn hunt and got to make those priorities count! Best wishes to you as well.

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