During my time on earth I have come to appreciate hard work. Not just in my chosen sport of running, but in all* sports. And arts. And all areas in which humans aspire to be the best.
This morning I wandered down the drive, negotiating mud and puddles to retrieve my newspaper. Unwrapping the plastic I saw a vaguely familiar face on the front page. It was my nephew, Oliver. My husband’s brother’s son. (My nephews have all taken to bushy facial hair and consequently look all the same, and a lot like their uncles on their mother’s side whom I knew as teenagers, and through whom I met my husband! Long convoluted story, a little incestuous, and more proof that I live in a village.)
I met Ollie 25 years ago next month, as a squawling newborn, the youngest of three boys. When I saw him being dragged around the house by his older brother who had him by the ankles I learned that babies survive, a lot! I babysat his two older brothers while Ollie went to his cello lessons. All three boys, and their parents are accomplished musicians. I took fish off hooks and re-baited them when Ollie came on holiday with us, aged 11. I steered clear of him while he was learning to drive. Ollie was a “gentleman” of the Christchurch Cathedral choir whilst our son, Jonny, was a treble.
I witnessed both boys, Jonny and Ollie, leave family functions or arrive late to fulfil their choir obligations. Singing hard and often all year but especially in the advent season leading up to Christmas. A recital on Christmas Eve. Midnight service. 10am Christmas Day service. Although the boys had evensong off, the gentleman returned for a fourth service in 24 hours. Jonny did as he was told. Ollie had to decide for himself. And as a teenager and university student, he chose to work hard.
He must have sacrificed a lot of what is considered normal for his peer group.
I admire that. It takes guts to say to your friends, “no, I cannot do (insert crazy plan, drinking, smoking, drugs, holidays, etc) because I have a bigger plan.” It reminds me of one of my favourite quotes, “
Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most.”
And now that dedication and hard work (and a good helping of natural talent) has paid off. Ollie is off to study in New York. Wow, Ollie. I am impressed. But what impresses me more, is that two weeks ago when you were home from Wellington and the extended family got together for Nanna’s birthday (my mother in law), was when you walked in the back door. I was in the dining room. You said, “Hi, Robyn” with such warmth in your voice. That makes me smile still today. You’re a nice kid. With a great future. And a stunning voice. Go and wow them on the world opera stage!
* Allow me to modify this to mainstream sports. Some “sports”, and even other activities which we start to see on our tv screens at night really do warrant a great big wtf. I am not talking about synchronised swimming, for example, because even that demands huge control and discipline, but some of the ones listed in this list of weird sports and games.