Talk about someone who was on a roll.
You might not have heard of Delaney Irving. She doesn’t have the grace of a Michael Jordan or the control of a Nikola Jokić. But like them, the Canadian teen has a championship of sorts, a really cheesy one. Even if it’s one she’ll never fully remember.
Irving, you see, took part in the annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling in Britain. That’s exactly what it sounds like: roll a wheel of cheese down a hill and run after it until you both cross the finish line. And as the CBC, Reuters and many others reported it, she did it the hard way … by tripping, knocking herself unconscious and rolling across the finish line.
“I think next year I just want to watch,” she confessed to the CBC after waking up to her win.
Now there’s an athlete after my own heart.
If you’ve met me or read this column for a while, you know that I’m … how shall I put this? … not exactly poetry in motion. Unless you consider Mr. Bean or Chevy Chase a poet, anyway. If there’s an awkward, stumbling way to do a simple task, have no fear: I’ll find an even clumsier one.
That’s how I managed to slam the bathroom door into me twice while trying to rescue a puking dog.
It’s how I managed to turn the act of retrieving a grocery bag into a parking lot ballet that required three stitches in my chin.
And yes, as the Longmont theater community will remind you, it’s how I managed to walk completely off stage and into the orchestra pit in the middle of an opening-night solo.
To my sort-of credit, I’m still around to write about this. I’ve even learned the vital survival skill of laughing at myself when life decides I really need a slapstick moment. But amid the laughter, there’s an even more vital quality to be found.
It’s equal parts persistence and commitment, but neither word quite says it. It’s the quality of putting it all on the floor. Holding nothing back. Being ready to fail, but only after doing everything you can to put yourself into a position to succeed.
In sports, it’s the team that knows one bad call won’t make or break them, playing a solid game with no effort left unexerted.
In fiction, it’s the Frodo Baggins type of hero – unable to destroy the Ring by his own strength, but using every ounce of strength to make its destruction possible.
And in life … well, in life, it’s a lot like Delaney Irving. Unable to control all the circumstances, but doing everything you can do. And maybe even getting the win despite yourself.
You set yourself up. Even when you fall down.
You may fall down a lot. There’s always the risk of saying “I gave it everything I had and it just wasn’t enough.” It leaves you without excuses or what-if’s.
But it also teaches. It trains. And it stretches you.
And each stretch brings you that much closer to where you want to be.
So by all means, trip. Stumble. Fall. (Heaven knows I do.) But do it because you’re trying for something better. You just might get it, even if you fall.
Keep trying, even if it’s just to roll a cheese downhill.
After all, where there’s a wheel, there’s a whey.