Friday, 25 August 2017

Shittin' Bricks Next To Surly, Burly Russians - AKA Escape From Excellence and The "Good Enough" Parky

I was squeezing the wooden oar so tight that  sawdust was sprinkling down. There sat your blogger trembling, a young peach-fuzzed 18 year old ectomorph lining up at the start of the 1979 World Junior  Rowing Champs in Moscow next to the super burly East Germans on our left, and the surly burly Russians on our right. We were so out-sized, if this were catch and release you would just leave us on the hook and use us as bait. These guys looked, well, goliathic. They had so much facial hair, that they had five o'clock shadow - five o'clock AM shadow.To top it off, we were entered in the coxed pair, an event where the typical “athlete” resembles a cartoonishly mesomorphic viking rower  from a Far Side cartoon.                        

 I sat there wondering whether it really mattered whether I came 10th, 11th, or last. Would anyone (back home) really notice?  30 years from now would any idiot be dredging up these obscure results for the purposes of navel-gazing? It was clear that I as not there just for the track suit, as they say, but it was equally apparent that I was not obsessed  as to whether I was podium-bound or not. There was no doubt that I was more concerned whether my performance met the expectations of others than my own. We  promptly went out and over-delivered seizing the day by finishing 11th out of 12 crews. God bless the Norweigans! You know people talk about  the wide gulf  in post-race pychological after-effects between first and second place,  but let me tell you the gap between last and second last is equally huge. The mental boost from beating someone, ANYONE is as huge as from winning. That goes even if we had edged out the Vatican at the line.

Smart-ass reader:” Wow Blair, I never knew you were such a big part of Canada’s sporting folklore.

However, succcess would require a further mental adjustment when later in the regatta our junior womens 8+ slayed all - including the eastern block giants. I confess that I was not  able to celebrate my teammates success, as I had no doubt that their success would diminish my performance in the eyes of others. I truly believe that this special group of women were the first to redefine "success” for Canada's rowing crews Prior to the 80's there was a unspoken belief that simply making a final was the gold.| standard for aerial Canadian crew. This crews legacy was to help Canadian rowers redefine themselves as winners fully capable of reaching the top of the podium.

Slightly disoriented reader wondering how the above has anything to do with the price of Sinimet in Micronesia?
"Blair, what he hell does this have to do with the price of Sinimet in Micronesia?

Blogger: Whoooaaa pardner! When was your last dose? It will all make sense shortly.
To receive a Parkinson's life sentence is ts to be relegated to living a life seemingly devoid of what one would normally call "excellence". As far as Parkinson's goes, true excellence and excellence at its  worst, perfectionism are best left for neurosurgeons really, anyone with an adequate supply of dopamine.

You though, my neurodegenerative friend, for the most part, will need to to reject excellence and embrace the shortcuts, hacks, and the general “just get it done” ethos of the “Good Enough” Parky

For the first few years after diagnosis (the honeymoon period) you may be able to get away with worshipping at the alter of excellence but after a few years of dopamine denial you will see that it is pretty much imperative that you embrace mediocrity  as it is mediocrity itself that may save your excellence.
Reader: “Blair, now you've totally lost me”
Blogger: “Let me backtrack a bit”

Early on in my battle with Parkinson's when my abilities (specifically mobility) fluctuated in a much more dramatic fashion I drew up two lists called High Tide and Low Tide. This was done and in an effort to better match the requirements of my daily tasks with my  skills and abilities -  which were constantly in flux. My high tide list would contain only activities that require good mobility, ie shopping, cuttting the grass, pole  dancing, etc while my low tide list contained activities that don’t require mobility: covering my eldest brother in touch football, writing world class blog entries washing dishes, felting,etc. While I do not use these specific tools anymore, the general concept remains with me. Given what I want to get done today, which task Is the best match for my current abilities?

Coming up, Part 2 - Learning to Limbo How to Manage the Bar That Is Expectations

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