Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music ...
Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music Education from Truman State. Now retired, Rich enjoyed reading, writing music and short essays. He is the director of Kirksville Community Chorus.
MCKNOTES THE ATHLETE
I had a dream. Well, it was more on the scale of a daydream, and it certainly didn’t compare to the description of the great orator, Martin Luther King, Jr., and his description of a far greater dream. In my daydream, I imagined myself as a great athlete walking into a stadium with many thousands of cheering fans. With my usual unfortunate timing, this dream occurred right about the time Serena Williams walked into center court at the U.S. Open to play Ms. Sloan Stephens. I’m writing this and the match hasn’t even started. It won’t be posted until after a week or so, and the U.S.Open will be ancient history by then.
I didn’t imagine myself as an African-American female less than half my age, but I merely wondered at what it must be like to have a crowd of over thirty thousand people rise cheering before I even did anything. I’ve always really admired the great tennis players, male and female. It’s a sport that I can follow pretty easily and one that is exciting with every point played. One can sit through nine innings of baseball without a single point scored. Football, too, can end up as a defensive challenge, and while that can be powerful and dramatic, it’s more fun to watch points being made.
I should tell you that I used to play tennis. I never played much, and I wasn’t very good, but I really enjoyed it. To say that I’m not athletically inclined is an understatement. I can’t even imagine how out of place I’d look trying to pull off a fist pump. That would be comical even to me. I didn’t really learn to play tennis until I was in my late thirties. I was so angry that not one gym teacher along the way introduced me to some sport in which I could really get engaged and enjoy a good workout. That’s part of what appealed to me about tennis. No matter how exhausted I was, I wanted to continue, and fought for every point.
I did play golf for a few years, and I enjoyed the pace and relaxing setting of golf, but I didn’t feel that I was physically engaged nearly as much as I was with tennis. But as usual, I digress.
I understand that most people dream about the ability to fly, and I suppose I’ve had iterations of that dream myself, but to tell the truth, I don’t recall sleep dreams very well. Sometimes I can remember them right after I awaken, but they quickly dissolve. I do admire great athletes. I actually admire individuals who excel at anything well enough to distinguish themselves as “world-class.”
I guess none of us can be good at everything. The most important thing is to figure out what suits us best and work to develop that ability to the point at which we can either make a living off of our ability, or simply provide ourselves with a bit of pride and satisfaction with our measure of accomplishment.
I guess we could all be better than we are. It depends a lot on how hard we work, but there are also breaks to be had along the way. There’s little doubt that nepotism plays a big part in helping some people achieve recognition. That doesn’t mean they’re undeserving. It just means that perhaps these individuals face slightly fewer obstacles.
I guess it’s not about having a dream at all, but more about finding one’s strengths and working to develop those strengths. It does probably feel good to know that hard work and persistence gets us where we’re going. It’s fine to have a dream, but even Oprah would probably verify that her success has more to do with long hours, determination and making sensible choices.