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Maybe we are less limited than we think...

Photo credit: "4Imagens/Getty Images"

I love watching stories about the lives of professional athletes. Maybe it’s my Capricorn spirit that lights up when I witness the relentless dedication to their craft or the adrenaline, I notice run through my body watching humans achieve incredible feats. A few that I have watched recently include Pele- the movie about the youngest footballer to ever win the World Cup; Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton- innovative big wave surfer and waterman; and The Alpinist- the story of Marc-Andre Leclerc, the alpinist who climbed some of the world’s tallest peaks, many without a rope.

Aside from their unwavering dedication to their sport and hours of hard work put into conditioning their bodies, I noticed many similarities amongst these once in a generation athletes. One that I really appreciate is that they do what they do simply because it’s fun. Marc-Andre speaks about climbing not for recognition but for his love of adventure. Pele recalls some of his favorite memories of playing in his hometown in rural Brazil when he is faced with challenges on the field in his professional career, and we get to see Laird Hamilton have a big smile on his face as he surfs some of the world’s biggest and most dangerous waves. Although each of these athletes have broken world records, one of their main motivations seems to be to simply have a good time.

Another similarity I noticed was their ability to stay true to themselves when advised to do otherwise. Despite being such an accomplished surfer, Laird Hamilton never competed professionally. When approached to participate in surfing competitions he turned down the offers, because they didn’t value what he loved most about surfing. In the case of Marc Andre, when making his documentary the team wanted to film a free solo he had never done before in real time. As this would be against what he viewed as soloing, Marc chooses to go off grid so that he could do it alone without the cameras first. Pele was encouraged to conform to a more “European” way of playing football until he realized that playing with the Ginga, or the spirit of his Brazilian culture expressed through movement, is what made his playing so unique and powerful.

The one similarity that stood out to me the most, was surprisingly, their relatability in their humanness. This was best summarized by Laird Hamilton’s wife Gabrielle Reece, also a professional athlete, who states “Laird is sort of like a flawed human who, through a real dedication and passion, is able to do these really extraordinary things. And I think that’s important, because I think sometimes, we all feel like we’re limited, and we are…but maybe less than we think”.

We may not experience what it's like to free solo a mountain or surf a 100-foot wave, but I like thinking about the limits we may put on ourselves and wonder what it would be like if we practiced saying “I can’t do X,Y,or Z….YET”.


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