by Wanda Lough
You have to watch the video first. It is only 4 minutes long.
There are several things I admire about this story. First, the platform it's published on. NOWNESS releases wonderfully artistic, profound videos on the human experience. It's a special place on the internet where there are no adds and no set way to explore the site. Platforms like NOWNESS and Vimeo Staff Picks are where I see the future of TV - decentralized, abstract, amateur, and artistic.
Then I admire the pieces of this story. I admire the director, David Leon for respecting the duality of the champion, Ruqsana Begum. Leon understood her. He juxtaposed images of her praying against images of her fighting. This outlined her own humility with this trial which she sees as a religious experience.
Another piece I admire is her coach's perspective. Success stories like this show that you need people in order to thrive - but a certain type of person. In other interviews, she said she could never give him excuses. That's the best kind of person. As he says, "a person shouldn't be judged in what they achieve in life but the obstacles they overcome to achieve that."
So often we see the achievements and nothing else.
Of course, the untraditional, powerful Ruqsana Begum gives me strength. I watch this, then immediately feel sensitive to her pain of feeling split - she has to be one person or the other - and wanting nothing else than to overcome deeply instilled fears.
Like I said, so often we only see trophies. And in times where anxiety and depression are rampant, even now called diseases, and get-rich-quick books are on the same shelf as low self-esteem books, we need honest success stories. Stories around athletic achievements are so honest because all bodies are made of the same stuff; it's egalitarian. Admiration for sport allows one to viscerally comprehend what they can accomplish. It's cathartic to witness.
It weakens emotional turmoils. Simply by reducing all attention down to the physical limitations. The concise phrase "Just do it" evokes a primal intuition to complete an objective. Physical feats remind us we complete difficult tasks with small steps and much humility like Ruqsana did.
You're female, you can't do this. I CAN.
You're Muslim, you can't do this. I CAN.
Our modern society has given up on the traditions of pilgrimages - the physical journey of change. We need to change. We need ways to prove to others of our strengths and that our change is real. Sport does this for us.
We don't have this usage in English, so I need to borrow a word from another language to explain this thought. In Spanish, the verb PODER conveys power, ability, and probability. As a noun, you can use it to describes a person's strength and capability, or use it broader sense like the power one has or a larger body of people has (government, company, org..etc). As a verb, it means "I can”, “you can”, “she can” etc. However, as a verb in the future tense, it relays potential by meaning "I could be", "you could be" to express future desires.
When thinking about our physical and mental challenges, we need to think of ourselves with the power, ability, the potential to overcome our trials. When searching for honest success stories and heroes, we need to see someone find these within themselves.
Wanda Lough: Autodidactic. Reads a lot. New to Austin area. From New Jersey and Arizona. No college degree. Art enthusiast and a professional admirer. Favorite album of 2016 was Wildflower.