I know... Its cliche. Relationships are important and blah blah blah... But cliches are true.
My wealth is beyond measure when I look at the pool of great relationships I have experienced and continue to do so. Even with myself.
Recently I read an article written about a study done by Heather Larson Phd at the University of Alberta. She was looking into masters swimmers and their experience of swimming their whole life and/or quitting when they were young and coming back to the sport. There were a few different variables here but the one I found most interesting was:
"... While there is a lot of anecdotal evidence about the amount of training being a precursor to burning out and dropping out of sports, most of the people she spoke with who dropped out of swimming did so at times when they weren’t getting along with their coaches or teammates."
This rang some bells for me. I thought back to several different programs and organizations that I was attached to both as a youth and an adult. The quality of the relationships I had with people was definitely a factor in whether I stayed around or left.
When I moved to Victoria in 1996 I joined a Rugby team. I had no vehicle so I hooked up with a team local to where I lived. Didn't know anyone so I showed up, kept my mouth shut, practiced and played hard. At my first practice I saw two fist fights. By the third practice I saw some real dirty cheap shots taken at team mates in scrimmage (a few at me the new guy). The coaches weren't all bad but a few of them were imbeciles. I tried hanging with the team but the more I did the more I realized I didn't really like them. I played a few games and we won them both. In my third game I twisted up my ankle pretty good and asked myself why I was doing this? For a club and team that didn't give a crap about me? So I quit - Not because I didn't love the sport but because there were no relationships there for me. Consequently, I later found out that what I wrote here is this team's exact well known disposition.
I tried Triathalon for years. I was a good runner and decent swimmer so it just made sense. A few buddies did it a bit so I gave it a go. I kept waiting to meet some cool people but it never happened. I soon realized that the sport was full of A types nerding out over their bikes, gear and times. What about drinking beer? You guessed it - No relationships formed - Buh bye Triathalon.
I worked in a busy restaurant downtown Victoria for years. The owner was a complete dirtbag. We called him "The Upright Walking Weasel" (he actually looked like an upright walking weasel). Anyways, I stayed around that job for a lot of years because the staff was so great.
I have several other stories of how I left or remained engaged by a program or organization because of the relationships I had there. I'm sure we all do. I've always thought of myself as a loyal person - To a fault actually. Now I'm wondering if my participation was more based on the people than the program or organization. I'm guessing it was.
Here is some critical thinking for Barbara and her post about "junk science". I believe her whole heartedly - The internet has tremendously increased access to and sharing of information. However, it has also proliferated junk science and fake news. This study was done on 200 masters swimmers and the interview field was only 20. I think this is a rather small sample size to draw conclusions from. The study was really looking at motives in quitting or staying with swimming and this was a discovery they made rather than a point they were looking to prove. It passed the academic mustard so I figured it was ok. Here is a synopsis of the study written by Dr Heather Larson herself.
Please take some time today to reflect on the many experiences and relationships forged over your lifetime. Good or bad experiences did you stick around or leave because of the program or organization? Or was your presence decided by the quality of relationships you found there.
I'm grateful for all of you being in my life.
Thanks for reading.