Recently I worked alongside another Canadian athlete, also a woman, whose athletic careers and early professional careers have paralleled mine. She is now entrenched in sport policy, the Olympic Games, national and international sport boards and has built a remarkable and successful career through hard work and focus.
For a few moments, while in her presence, I felt a wave of inadequacy. I was struck by a fear I had turned my back on once in a lifetime opportunities. Why didn’t I do more in the world of sport after my athletic career ended, why haven’t I entrenched myself in sport policy, or in increasing opportunities for women, or coaching our next team of champions?
The answer is both simple and complex. Simply, I wanted to explore different talents and abilities, and sport no longer captured my imagination in the way it had for two decades. I wanted to write, and to paint, and to make a deep and meaningful contribution to the world. I wanted to cast away the image of disciplined, muscled and jockish, and explore the other parts of who Silken was.
For many years I saw who I was as contrary to what I experienced in sport. Reflecting from where I am today, I see that sport is as interwoven into my life as intricately, and as permanently, as the muscles in my body. I have and will always have rowers arms, as my body has been shaped by years of pulling on an oar, so has my mind, my character and my way of seeing the world. It is sport that taught me to have dreams and make those dreams real by setting goals. The dreams I have today for my life are no longer as high profile, but they are as meaningful as any Olympic dream I had in the past. My passion to be my best, found a home on the river, rowing a wooden boat. This passion imbues all areas of my life today and it is what makes me a powerful speaker and motivator. Passion to be all that I can be comes from the very core of my being, its power has been reinforced through years of high intensity sport, and passion is what again and again, leads me to my next calling or incarnation. The passion to speak, the passion to write, the passion to parent, and recently, the passion to paint.
So back to meeting my fellow Olympian, and the emotions it evoked. Humans, especially women, have a tendency to compare themselves to others. Is she slimmer, is she more successful, is she more intelligent? This habit of comparison, takes accomplishment out of the context of the personal decisions, choices and aptitudes that brings one person to be a commentator and another to write books. The complex choices I have made have involved my children and my absolute commitment not to miss their childhood. They involve an honest exploration of my talents, as well as a realistic look at lifestyle considerations. All of these factors have brought me to the place where I am at today. I love my life. I simply needed somebody to remind me that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. …Silken