How does it feel to win a silver medal at the Olympics?
|The New Prompt is:
You are on the medal podium at the Olympics when a reporter asks you, "How does it feel to win the Silver Medal"... Answer this question as creatively as you can.
Beyond the Edge of the Sky
For four years, I have arisen at four o’clock in the morning. Sometimes I parted from my bed with the dragging sleep-deprived countenance of a zombie. I’m glad no one saw me moaning over the tiredness in my body or my creeky, cranky bones . . . Sometimes while I was brushing my teeth to wake up more fully so I could drive to the swimming pool, I drifted off and stood like a horse, feet firmly planted and yet asleep. I never got a full eight hours during the years of preparation for this day. I lived on four or five hours of sleep most days, but it earned me the silver I'm holding right now. It was worth it.
All these years, I swam from one end of the pool to another, back and forth, back and forth. I recited every poem I knew; I conjugated every verb I could think of in three different languages, and still I swam, like a caged animal, back and forth, back and forth. Many times my muscles ached, and my arms felt like they would drop off and sink down to the bottom of the pool. My legs grew numb and then stiff. Finally they'd turn into two writhing snakes of pain, but still I swam on, back and forth, back and forth -- each lap a pledge to be better; each lap a celebration because I endured and was building strength. I swam that torturous route every Sunday through Saturday with never a day of rest, and never a day did I not pull harder, faster, longer, farther.
Yet, here I stand with this silver medal -- an icy Everest peak, the far-a-way star I'd always yearned for, the breathless wonder of dreams come true.
Each one of those days I swam, my skin reeked of chlorine. I drank it, breathed it, saturated my body with it, seeped it up through my pores. My hair turned green, my face paled into bleach-like death, and my eyes became permanently reddened. My clothes, my towels, even my car took on that smell. My friends would tell you that chlorine is my aftershave, my cologne of life. With wrinkled fingers and nails so brittle from the constant immersion that they break when they reach land, I became a human aquatic animal, scarcely able to crawl about on land. This porpoise man you see before you is one who gave everything for the medal I now hold in my hand.
Do I regret it? Not a moment. Take a good, long look at this medal. See the way it shines? It warranted every drop of chlorine that I inhaled and soaked up. It was worth every morning of painful arising. It merited the ache of muscle spasms, cramps, and crinks. This Olympic silver is the treasure of a lifetime.
So, yes, I spent my Saturdays and Sundays at meets and competitions. I never had any free time. The last book I attempted to read fell into the water and drowned. I’m not sure what’s on TV, unless it’s the same shows from four years ago. I wouldn’t be able to name a current movie, unless its title was “How to Improve Your Olympic Swimming.” We Olympic athletes are all distanced from life; we know only one thing: practice, practice, practice.
Would I do it again? Absolutely, for there is still that crag on Everest I haven't battled and another star -- a higher one. Most definitely I’ll be back next time, and then, I'll fly even higher. But for now, I gaze at the silver, and my heart beats a symphony.
Was it worth it for just a silver you ask? I smile, and the light of every dreamer's dream is in my eyes. Then I shake my head and I laugh softly. Was it worth it? Beyond every one of your imaginings, my friend, for this silver medal represents the edge of the sky.