Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lessons from Lance

Seven times yellow jersey winner Lance Armstro...
If I'd had my druthers, as they say in Texas, Lance would have been on the podium in yellow today. I would have dearly loved to see that, just one more time. Not because winning is everything and I perceive this particular Tour de France as representing some kind of loss. It's because I wanted to see him overcome the odds once again. The funny thing is, he's already done that, by surviving cancer and winning the Tour seven years running. How many "A's" do you have to get before you no longer need to prove to the world you're a good student?

Commentators and sports writers have noted how relaxed and congenial Lance has seemed this year. I think he'd loved to have lead the Tour all the way to Paris but the falls and delays early on interfered. What I find interesting is the way he took it all in stride and ultimately refused to allow bad luck to create a bad attitude. One could say, being at the top of the pyramid he can afford the luxury of being a good sport, but frankly, I think he's matured to the point where he can put things in perspective.

I recall a conversation in which a fellow student and I were chatting about exams and I mentioned something about how good it felt to secure a passing grade. He said that was fine for a person "my age," but he was young and still had to live up to certain expectations. I explained the academic pressures were similar for us both and prior life achievements did not secure anyone a free ride in medical school. He agreed but also pointed out that, at this stage in life, grades were his primary means of demonstrating his capability.

I found it difficult to argue with him without seeming callous or insensitive, and as time has gone along, our common experiences have drawn us closer, erasing differences and highlighting similarities. We've gained a greater appreciation for the kinds of contributions each of us can make as well as for the "falls and delays" we've both encountered. I'm always amazed to see how we change and adapt, how finding ourselves toward the rear of the peloton, so to speak, and struggling our way to the finish -- forget about the sprint -- have created mutual respect.

I know, it's not the Tour, but we're gotten a few "lessons from Lance," just the same.

(GNU Free Documentation image via Wikipedia)

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