I believe everyone needs to do something that they can’t do.
Ever since I was a little boy, things came easy to me. I learned my abc’s, multiplication tables, how to draw three-dimensionally, and so on. In Junior High I taught myself how to play classical guitar, I earned my school’s art award, and I played offensively and defensively on the football team. I was one of the top sprinters and triple-jumpers for my junior high. Throughout my life I played soccer, rugby, racquetball, golf, and even water-polo. I swam for the Mountain View swim team and made it to the state meet. I did all this while keeping a weighted 4.2 G.P.A.
Yet, despite all my talents, I can’t pole vault.
I’ve been trying to pole-vault for two years now, two years of working from 2 pm to 7pm every week day trying to learn to put a stick in a box and jump over a pole. Two years of swinging on a rope to practice technique, two years of V-bar drills in order to work form, two years of push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, bar-dips, and leg-lifts, and two years of callused, blistered hands as a result. It’s not that I don’t have the ability to pole vault. I run faster than most of the other vaulters, I jump further than most of the other vaulters, but I just can’t pole vault. I run fast. I jump high. I screw up.
Brandon Bear and I both started pole vaulting at the same time. We both both started out with no previous knowledge and both of us went the same height. Now, when he has a pole in his hands, he reminds me of a jouster on a horse, ramming his tree-trunk of a pole into the box and catapulting himself over fifteen feet. Me, on the other hand, I still look like some kid prancing along, humming my favorite song, waving a toothpick trying to use it to poke myself over the bar.
A question I’ve constantly asked myself is if I’m so bad at pole vaulting, why don’t I quit? Why waste my time on pole vault when I could excel in any other event in track? Every time I ask myself those questions, I give myself this answer. That THAT is the very reason I continue to pole vault… because I CAN do any other event. Pole vault is the only event I CAN’T do. That’s why I think everyone needs something they can’t do. To create drive for a goal. To keep them humble. To keep them focused. That’s my drive to keep at it and I’ll keep waving my toothpick until I learn how to use a real pole.
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