Last weekend I met and old friend by the river.
He had come to Philadelphia from Connecticut due to a rowing regatta that was being held on on of the rivers. I walked the length of the 2.5 mile course to meet him. After walking through the crowds of rowers and their boats on shore and alongside the river where they propelled their craft with intensely poetic grace, I found my friend. We talked and caught up for a bit, but he had to do some things with his team and so I left him for a bit before meeting up again. In that time between, I did something that I had not done in a long time. I was hanging out by the river watching the crews row by. I was in an environment that I have not spent much time in since retiring from serious competition. I have been down at the river before and even been in a few boats, but this was first time in a long while that I spent a good amount of time just sitting and soaking the regatta environment in.
It was here that I remembered. As I watched the crews race by I remembered all the times that I had been in that position. I saw the teams with their boats on shore. I saw crews warming up getting ready to race. I remembered all of it. I remembered when that was me. I have spent many years since retiring feeling lost in the world. I no longer had such a defined purpose as I did when I was rowing. The sport was the one place where I knew what I was doing. It is the closest to mastering anything that I have yet to attain. On the river I knew what I was doing. I knew who I was in a way I have never known previously or since.