Wednesday, April 8, 2009

gauntlets and character flaws

it is the rare gauntlet thrown at my feet that I ignore.

good old wikipedia tells us that to "throw down the gauntlet" is to issue a challenge. back in the olden days, a gauntlet-wearing knight would challenge a fellow knight or enemy to a duel by throwing one of his gauntlets on the ground; the opponent would then pick up the gauntlet to accept the challenge.

I have this thing about gauntlets: I have to pick them up. and I'm beginning to think this is a manifestation of a character flaw.
thus, I delve into my psyche . . . ooh . . . and try to figure this out.

I tend to think of myself as noncompetitive. I would rather lose a game than win one, especially when it comes to activities like cards and backgammon and bowling. I am so empathetic that if I win, I feel sadness that the one who lost wasn't able to feel the thrill of winning. (because I do assume that most people are not like me: that they actually enjoy winning.)
I don't like to compete on my bike: I refuse to sign up for those timed hill-climbs and races. (and of course there is an exception: Lotoja is timed, and I am officially "racing" when I ride it. but I know better---I am racing nothing but the sun---so that one doesn't count.)
I don't need to be the best at anything; I am more concerned with being the best me I can be.
and in that way, I am competitive. I compare myself to others, and see my opportunities. part of the reason I don't like the timed races is that I am so critical of myself, I compare my times to those of women my age and am devastated when I fall short of decent times. but I don't want to beat them, I want to better myself. I want to be the very best cyclist I can possibly be, and if there are other women my age out there doing better, then I'd just better be working a little harder.

back to gauntlets, though.
I have come a long way in the past 2 1/2 years, and I have learned that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. each new ride is a challenge, and as I've said before, I always make it. I have yet to quit any ride I've begun and committed myself to (I will exclude the time I turned around because I knew I was pushing myself too hard one day: see, I am less obsessed than you think).
therefore, when those gauntlets come flying, this non-competitive but driven-to-better-herself me jumps at the opportunity. I can do that. why not?
and perhaps most importantly, if not now, when?
because that's the next part of it: why think about it, why talk myself out of it, why not just do it?

then again, I could just be living a giant illusion that conceals and obscures my real issue: that I don't know how to say no.

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