Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Extending the Narrative

“It is futile to see the road’s end. One cannot get down on not achieving some ‘details’ of their careers for maybe greatness is achieving – if only once – a superlative performance performed with all our potential,” Percy Cerutty once said. At times I find optimism in these words I did while running 4x8minutes intervals in the arid Wenatchee foothills here.

Sonic Youth’s on the radio. The song “Stones” plays. The melody, the pace, the ache and especially the line “we come together to gather stars” fills the void with toxic auditory bliss. In that moment, that line is transcending, unending. Over and over and over again it plays – “we come together to gather stars” – on a revolving loop in my mind and won’t let go.


Whistler was a chance to chase stars. January, the time I next return, is another. To have an August training session and know I’ll be racing Jens Arne and Lind and Emil up these very same hills at the Pre-Olympics helps my synapses fire faster. Even better, I can almost see the snow, can almost touch it. I see the A-Final unfold. My coach, too, is locked into the same groove. He’s on the side of the trail, quietly telling me, “This is the place” one lap. On the next, “It’s snowing, and snowing hard. We’ve got the skis dialed and you’re just flying.” I’m taking it all in. I’m, you know, locked in. This is the place. This is the place. This is the place. I’m gathering that star. For sure.

Since the Whistler days I’ve had two weeks back at my parent’s house in Washington. Last month they moved from the place of my youth, the alpine town of Leavenworth, thirty miles eastward. The city rests along the mighty, mellow Columbia River. Coming into town, a candy-apple red sign, backlit with granny apple green neon, takes the form of a certain orchard fruit. The sign proudly proclaims:

Welcome to Wenatchee
The Apple Capitol of the World

Every so often talent merges with desire and you, the observer, are given the opportunity to see the explosing of interest unfold before your eyes. At Cascade and Cashmere, rival schools separated by twelve miles of pear and apple orchards, two eighth graders are simultaneously fanning the flame of their ambition. Sometime, perhaps as soon as next year, people in Forks, Washington or Goldendale will usher their names beside the word combinations “devastating speed,” or “inexhaustible stamina.” Even state champion. As a fan of sport, I look forward as to how this rivalry develops. Will the young athletes have the consistency of purpose and the desire to transcend the schoolyard definition of success to, as Kim Gordon & Thurston Moore might say, “Come together to gather stars?”

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