Once one has attained a high level of success at any pursuit and especially an unorthodox pursuit like rowing, one develops a number of generally self-congratulatory half-truths to explain how it happened that he ascended to that particular pinnacle. Often because original motivations don't seem to have much in common with the eventual success, the real and rationalized motivations are difficult to separate.
attained quoteshigh quoteslevel quotessuccess quotespursuit quotesunorthodox quotesrowing quotesdevelops quotesnumber quotesgenerally quotesselfcongratulatory quoteshalftruths quotesexplain quoteshappened quotesascended quotespinnacle quotesoriginal quotesmotivations quotescommon quoteseventual quotessuccess quotesreal quotesrationalized quotesdifficult quotesseparate quotes
As a competitor, winner or loser, one crosses the line into limbo. The adrenaline is gone, the anticipation is gone. The verdict is either comforting or devestating but it neithers returns the exhilaration of the race nor helps directly to win the next. Maybe all that matters is that there is a next.
Hundreds of feet above us, cars whisked by, oblivious to our drama. Up there were the shortcuts, the excuses, the world of infinite possibilities separating man and his potential. We had four miles and the best competition in the nation. We linked hands in the boat and committed ourselves to each other.
Karen rowed for what the venerable American shell builder George Pocock called 'the symphony of motion.' As dawn breaks over the river, the shell is lifted from its rack out into the morning. On another rack the oars hang ready to be greased and slipped into the locks. Then, awakened to the river and the feel of the oars, the oarsmen blend in fulfillment of the shell. The symphony is not of competition. It is the synchronous motion over water, the harmonic flexing of wood and muscle, where each piece of equipment and every oarsman is both essential to, and the limit of motion itself.
karen quotesrowed quotesvenerable quotesamerican quotesshell quotesbuilder quotesgeorge quotespocock quotescalled quotesthe quotessymphony quotesmotion quotesdawn quotesbreaks quotesriver quoteslifted quotesrack quotesmorning quotesoars quoteshang quotesready quotesgreased quotesslipped quoteslocks quotesawakened quotesriver quotesfeel quotesoars quotesoarsmen quotesblend quotesfulfillment quotesshell quotescompetition quotessynchronous quotesmotion quoteswater quotesharmonic quotesflexing quoteswood quotesmuscle quotespiece quotesequipment quotesoarsman quotesessential quoteslimit quotes
We shook hands. For a moment our eyes met - which I found surprisingly destabilizing. Then we pulled back and there was a mement of what seemed like mutual appraisal. For me, it was like being at a regatta, sizing up the competition on the dock before climbing into the shells. Could I take him? ... He could inflict serious damage. I sensed that. But he would be unfamiliar with rowers - men used to toiling backwards, blindly, trained, most of all, to endure.
shook quoteshands quotesmoment quoteseyes quotesmet quotesfound quotessurprisingly quotesdestabilizing quotespulled quotesback quotesmement quotesmutual quotesappraisal quotesregatta quotessizing quotescompetition quotesdock quotesclimbing quotesshells quotesinflict quotesdamage quotessensed quotesunfamiliar quotesrowers quotesmen quotestoiling quotesbackwards quotesblindly quotestrained quotesendure quotes
For two months after Christmas vacation we limped around campus with muscles too tigh and sore to walk properly, yet we had no good idea of our goal. Without knowing what a real race was like, I couldn't judge whether it was worth all the preparation, but having put in so much time already, how could we back out? Quite a few Freshman did manage to back out. After Christmas several, when freed from faily practice, decided that they liked not feeling tired all the time. Most of them vanished without a word.
months quoteschristmas quotesvacation quoteslimped quotescampus quotesmuscles quotestigh quotessore quoteswalk quotesproperly quotesgood quotesidea quotesgoal quotesknowing quotesreal quotesrace quotesjudge quotesworth quotespreparation quotesput quotestime quotesback quotesfreshman quotesmanage quotesfreed quotesfaily quotespractice quotesdecided quotesfeeling quotestired quotestime quotesvanished quotesword quotes