You say you wouldn’t do this for very long
The applause from it all is so defining
Well it bounces off the wall at you
When the miracle is happening
– Stevie Nicks
Like the rest of the world, I have been watching Lance Armstrong’s fall from Grace with morbid fascination. It’s all so ugly and played out in such a grand style that you can’t look away. I saw part of his interview last night and it left me cold. No one knows yet why he chose to “confess” in such a bizarre public forum, but even the confession felt disingenuous to me. It was devoid of emotion, remorse or even awareness. He might as well have been talking about his dinner from the night before.
I haven’t been following all the gory details and quite frankly I don’t care about that. What gets to me about all of this is the matter of fact kind of attitude around any type of cheating. If everyone is doing it, it’s somehow a non-issue. Really? Is that what we’ve become? When I was eight I joined The AAU Jr. Olympic swimming and diving team. Up every morning at 4am, off to the pool for 2 hours of sprints, laps, and spring board training. Later to the ten meter towers. Then off the school for the day until ballet class that evening till 7pm. Years of training at that pace with serious coaches who were no nonsense. Intense, grueling at times, and no room for whiners. By the time I was 15, I was spending summers touring in Italy as a ballerina dancing 6 hours a day. I don’t mean hanging in clubs people, I mean sweating through professional ballet classes in 100 degree heat and no AC. None of us gave it a second thought. It was our life. I still spent any free time on the swimming and diving team. Free time, ha! What’s that? I thought about my lifetime of training; giving up childhood fancies, dances, basketball games, cheer-leading, a social life…I thought about all of it last night as Lance was “confessing.”Being so disciplined and giving up so much starting from such a young age was my choice, and Lance made his. Money and power? That doesn’t exist for 99% of ballet dancers or athletes. What Lance built is another world, something I can’t really comprehend. As a dancer and musician, awards are really nonexistent and don’t mean much to me. It’s the process that you live for, the classes, the training, and the performances. It’s the hours you spend hanging out in freezing theaters, waiting for the orchestra or the sound man that I love. It’s knowing that you are on your own with the work, and the work drives you day after day. Knowing that perfection is unattainable but still striving for it with fire and passion. That’s what I love, the journey. But when I did win a gold medal, the blue ribbons, the amazing awards, which in proportion to the work were very rare, I owned them. I knew that I had given my heart, my soul, and all that I am, to achieve that brief moment of victory. The years of training and isolation came to mind in in those brief moments of glory. My mom has my Gold Medal, I forgot about it a week after I won it. There was more work to do and no time to waste basking in the glory. In a way, it was meaningless. That moment was in the past…where was I going from here? So when I try to imagine my lifetime of work being built on a lie, on a cheat, I can’t comprehend it. When I do look back on the victories on the podium, in the recording studio, in dance class, I feel proud of my work ethic and discipline. I’m proud that I chose to give up my childhood and reach for my dreams. I wouldn’t change a thing. I wonder if Lance would.
I didn’t ask when you shook your head
I always accepted what you said
As the truth and the truth only
– Stevie Nicks