There is no try

February 27, 2016 § 25 Comments

“Do or do not, there is no try.”

This was recently lectured at me and it sounded way too fancy for this particular person to have dreamed up, so I Googled it and found that, of course, it came from a movie and, of course, from Star Wars which means, of course, that everyone knows about it except me.

I saw Star Wars once in 1977, thought it was a pleasantly funny movie, and haven’t thought about it since.

Apparently, I don’t know the “there is no try” thingy because it comes from the Yoda movie, which I never saw, but which was alleged to be more philosophically deep than Plato. Not bad for a muppet.

The context of my buddy’s comment was, of course, bike racing. “Why do something that you’re not gonna win?” he asked. “No one gives a shit if you try. Trying’s for losers. Either win it or don’t.”

“Yeah!” I said, and dashed off to the race next morning all prepared to fuck trying and get on with DOING, i.e. WINNING. BECAUSE TRYING IS FOR LOSERS AND I’M TIRED OF TRYING.

Unfortunately, instead of doing, I wound up with another 19-placed try.

To rub salt in the wound, the friend texted me that afternoon. “Did you DO?” he asked.

“Fuck off, you petersnizzle,” I almost texted. Then, remembering that Manslaughter is a subscriber, I refrained, and figured I’d respond in my blog, which he never reads past the first paragraph to see if he’s mentioned in it.

I think a lot of people subscribe to the Muppet Philosophy of It’s Better to Stay Home Than to Fail, and not just in bike racing. This is why couches keep getting bigger: They have accommodate ever-widening asses.

It’s very different from how things used to be when I went to Japan in 1987.

Of all the things that struck me most, aside from the squat toilets, the strikingest was the notion of “ganbaru,” or “try your hardest.” There wasn’t a word for “talented” in the way we use it to explain success. No one ever said, “He’s a talented athlete” as an explanation for a victory. But you couldn’t get through ten seconds of an interview with an athlete without him saying he was gonna “ganbaru” and he “hoped to ganbaru” and his analysis of the race was that he was gonna “ganbaru his ass off.”

The problem with getting your life lessons from a muppet in a bad movie, aside from the obvious, is that in order to win something you had to try at it. And since no one always wins, it means that sometimes you gave it your best shot and fell short, and instead of a trophy and the top step all you got was fifteenth place and a “try.” And since you never know whether this particular try is going to result in victory or defeat, and since all victories require the try, if you want any hope of winning you have to try.

It doesn’t make for warm couches with big, permanent ass-indentations.

And in bike racing, where the winningest pro of all time *only* won a third of his races, and where winning a single monument among a career of losses makes you a giant of the sport, it seems like not only is there try, but try is pretty much all there is. Servais Knaven tried really hard one day, like he’d been trying his whole life, and wound up kissing and hoisting the pave on the velodrome at Roubaix.

I’m heading out to the Boulevard RR shortly, Manslaughter. I may do. I will definitely try. And thank you for subscribing!

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