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Aberrant RPG - Is It Possible To Be Too Good?

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Excerpt from "Is It Possible To Be Too Good At The Thing You Love The Most?"

By William Miller, originally published in Rolling Stone September 2010

It's exceedingly hard for baseline athletes to compete against nova athletes in the arena of the public eye. It's even more difficult for them when their nova counterparts are able to compete in comparable events; the standard Olympics tends to pale in the face of the nova Olympics because the feats of strength and speed are simply more spectacular to behold. Normal men and women continue to push the envelope of what we think the human body is capable of, and yet, it just isn't exciting to the eye. In some ways, this is a sad commentary on our attention span as a species: we'd rather focus on all of the things we can't do instead of all the things we can, and we'd rather watch people who can do things we never could as opposed to those who can simply do the same things better than us.

For much of organized athletics' history, this was part of the appeal of being a spectator. We would watch Hank Aaron hit a home run and marvel at the man's ability to continuously do it, but inside, there was always part of us that felt given a bit different path in life we could have been Hammerin' Hank. A few changes in life, and we could have been Eli Manning, Jackie Joyner, Bruce Jenner, Serena Williams, or Alexi Lalas. Even if they seemed superhuman to us or perhaps outside of our own ability, we still took pride in that they represented the best of us on a physical level. In Hamlet, a famous speech is given by the eponymous character that says mankind is express and admirable where form and movement is concerned, and that in action, mankind is like angel.

Have we not had similar feelings to Hamlet's while watching a wide receiver pull a high pass into his body using his fingertips while leaping through the air and still somehow manage to stay within bounds? Or feel a moment of absolute triumph while watching a gymnast stick a picture-perfect landing after an awe-inspiring routine? I really hope that my generation was not the last to appreciate the majesty of the normal, human athlete, and that every generation since hasn't been so brainwashed by the onslaught of media coverage of nova accomplishment that they are incapable of recognizing greatness within their own species.

Baseline athletes certainly have their work cut off for them trying to complete against the novas in the spotlight, but they continue to do so even if they cannot draw the same crowds as they once did or if their paychecks may be a bit lighter than they once were. Team sports tend to do better at this than individuals sports; even with the rising numbers of novas in the world, it's going to be quite some time before we have a World Cup where all nations are represented by nova soccer players. The same applies to football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. These sports still have a market, though perhaps not quite as ludicrous as they once were.

Individual sports have suffered more, but women's sports in particular have seen a decline at both team and individual levels. Regardless of how fair it is, men's sports generally have a broader audience than women's, and with the advent of a yet another competing market in the form of nova athletes, organizations such as the WNBA, the LPGA, and the WTA are having difficulty maintaining the visibility and revenue they once enjoyed.

That hasn't stopped baseline female athletes from competing, but we aren't always aware of them like we once were. Thanks largely to the efforts of Billie Jean King and her peers, tennis has always been a market where female athletes could compete on the world stage with the men and become global stars. The rivalries in this sport are legendary: Navratilova vs. Evert, Graf vs. Seles, Williams vs. Henin, to name a few.

It's a very demanding life; unlike most sports, tennis players tend to compete year-round with only about four or five weeks off at a time. The atmosphere amongst the players is occasionally described as toxic; physically beautiful players tend to see more time on the show courts during the early rounds than the more athletically talented ones or higher-ranked players, and the press time will inevitably go to those players who are easier on the eyes than those who are not. It's a very cutthroat world both on the court and off it, far more than their male counterparts, and with the advent of novas in the athletic sapping up even more of the media's attention, that cutthroat world has become even more so in recent years.

You'd think that any woman currently competing there would relish the chance to erupt an ascent beyond that world, but when Amelie Mauresmo erupted in 2007, she was quoted very early on in her new life as saying that erupting was the worst thing that could have ever happened to her. Years later, Mauresmo has stated she is extremely happy with life as a nova, but she still stands by comments she made in 2007 and 2008.

Mauresmo was born in France in 1979, well before she would have had any superhuman athletes to look up to. A sizeable portion of her youth was dedicated to learning the sport and honing her skills. After turning pro, her rugged appearance did not initially endear her to fans, and her admission of being a lesbian brought some negative remarks from rival Martina Hingis that never seemed to vanish completely. However, as she held herself with a high amount of dignity and poise, she won the hearts and mind of most of her peers and the media, leaving only one troublesome issue that plagued her for years.

Until 2006, Mauresmo had the unfortunate title of being the most talented female player never to win one of the four Major tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open). Her elegant game which utilized spins and angles, combined with her natural athleticism and power, made for a formidable combination but she'd never been able to solve the mental problem of how to actually win seven matches in a row and take one of the coveted titles.

Her potential finally was realized in 2005 when she won the year-end WTA championship and used that momentum to take her first Major title at the 2006 Australian Open. Controversy followed her there when her opponent in the final, Justin Henin, retired in the second set claiming an abdominal injury. Those doubts were erased at Wimbledon later that year when she defeated Henin in three sets to win her second Major, and defeated Serena Williams at the U.S Open.

But it was the French Open that Mauresmo wanted to win most of all. Playing in her home nation's greatest tennis tournament had always been problematic. The weight of France's hopes and expectations, it was thought, kept overwhelming her and prevented her from succeeding. The French Open itself, with its red clay surface, was already a puzzle many players couldn't solve; the great Pete Sampras and John McEnroe were never able to find a way to win the French despite having stellar records at other tournaments.

It was her home tournament, and Mauresmo wanted it badly. Mauresmo failed to defend her Australian Open title in 2007, losing early on, but those closest to her knew that it was the French Open she was truly concerned about that year. Winning the French would not only mean the first time a French player had won the tournament in several years, for Mauresmo, it also meant she would have completed a career Grand Slam; winning every Major tournament at least once.

She fought her way hard through the quarterfinals and semifinals, defeating Maria Sharapova in a thrilling 11-9 third set and Ana Ivanovic 7-5 in the third set, respectively. The final pitted her against Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, another extremely gifted tennis player whose career was filled with periods of sporadic greatness followed by periods of equally great inconsistency. By way of comparison, Kuznetsova had a surprisingly easy path to the final, unexpectedly routing both Kim Cljisters and defending champion Justine Henin in straight sets. Kuznetsova had spent fully four hours less on the court throughout the tournament than Mauresmo had and was far fresher physically.

Mauresmo battled Kuznetsova for three grueling hours, taking the first set in a tiebreak 7-6(7) and losing the second in a tiebreak 6(4)-7. The third set at the French Open has no tiebreak, and serving at 5-6, fell behind in the game 15-40 giving Kuznetsova two match points. She saved the first with a blistering ace down the middle of the court. On the second, Kuznetsova took control of the point almost immediately and moved Mauresmo from side to side with a series of increasingly wide angles.

On the fifteenth shot of the point, Kuznetsova hit a wide shot that pulled Mauresmo completely off the court. It was all Mauresmo could do simply to get her racquet on the ball, and it drifted lazily across the net to Kuznetsova who measured the ball carefully and drilled it to the opposite side of the court.

On any other day this would have been a perfect, clean winner.

Out of nowhere, Mauresmo hit a burst of speed and covered the entire distance between her and the ball in less than one second, dove, and flicked a delicate passing shot that just clipped the far sideline. Kuznetsova, believing the point was over, had already fallen to her knees in celebration and had absolutely no chance at retrieving it.

Even now, watching clips of the shot gives goose bumps. The speed required to cover the distance and the accuracy required to hit that kind of angle and spin while diving requires quantum infused muscles. Not to mention doing both of them at the same time. Kuznetsova, on her knees, stared unbelievingly at the mark in the red clay where the ball kissed the line. The crowd leapt to its feet and roared at the magnificence of Mauresmo's effort. This was match point of the French Open, and the home crowd wanted Mauresmo to win just as much as she wanted to win it for them. The standing ovation that followed the shot lasted a full five minutes.

In the heat of the moment, though, no one understood had happened.

No except Amelie Mauresmo.

Most players would have given a fist pump, or shouted "Come on!" or any number of celebratory gestures after winning such a point, but Mauresmo sat on her knees, covered in the red clay, and numbly looked out at the French crowd applauding her effort.

Kuznetsova got to her feet first and headed back to be ready for the next point. Mauresmo, however, remained on her knees and buried her face in her hands. After a moment to compose herself, she rose to her feet, walked to the net and spoke with chair referee Teresa Spadaro.

"What is the matter?" asked Spadaro.

"I have to forfeit," Mauresmo answered.

Spadaro couldn't believe it. The score was 7-6, 6-7, 5-6 and 40-40 in the current game. No one forfeits the championship match of a major at that score unless they are physically unable to continue.

"Do you need the trainer?" Spadaro then asked. At this time, Kuznetsova had joined them at the net.

"What is going on?" Kuznetsova asked.

"No, I don't need the trainer," Mauresmo answered Spadaro then held out her hand to her opponent.

Kuznetsova refused to take it. Mauresmo herself had been on the receiving end of a forfeit in the final match of the 2006 Australian Open. In the eyes of many, you haven't won a Major unless you've won match point, and Kuznetsova wasn't going to be denied the honor of defeating her opponent. She was not going to have her first French Open title come without winning that final point, especially not after how hard she had to work to take the second set, and especially not while she was two points away from legitimately winning it. This was compounded by the fact as Mauresmo's friend off the court, Kuznetsova knew that Mauresmo wasn't exactly pleased that her 2006 Australian Open title had come with an asterisk, and couldn't believe that Mauresmo might be doing the exact same thing to her.

The crowd was murmuring with confusion, and the television broadcasters weren't able to hear what was happening on the court.

"Are you injured?" Kuznetsova asked.

"No," Mauresmo said. "But I can no longer compete."

"I don't understand," Kuznetsova replied.

"Novas are not allowed on tour," Mauresmo said softly, "and I think I just erupted."

Kuznetsova was speechless. She was going to win the French Open. She had played the match of her life against Mauresmo, and it wouldn't matter. History would remember the 2007 French Open as the tournament when Amelie Mauresmo became ineligible to play competitive tennis.

At that point, the French crowd knew the match was over even before Spadaro made the official announcement that Mauresmo had retired from the match, and they were not shy about letting their disappointment known. The idea of someone forfeiting a match at that stage, something Mauresmo had worked her entire life to achieve at the point, was simply unfathomable.

But the truth of the matter is simply that Mauresmo was put into a no-win situation by her eruption. Had she continued the match and won it, the WTA would have stripped her of the title once it learned she had erupted during the match. Some critics have stated that she should have played two more points and given Kuznetsova the victory without saying a word about what happened, but not playing to her full potential was just as inconceivable to Mauresmo as playing on with her now superhuman physical faculties. Some critics have stated that Kuznetsova legitimately won the tournament as had she not erupted, Mauresmo would not have able to win the point at 30-40 and Kuznetsova would have thus won without any controversy.

After Kuznetsova reluctantly shook her hand, Mauresmo thanked Spadaro and then stoically remained on court through the trophy presentation.

When it was her turn to speak, she said only, "I would like to congratulate Sveta on a well-earned victory. I would like to apologize to everyone here for being unable to complete the match. It would have meant so much for me to be able to bring this title home to you. Finally, I must thank everyone who has ever supported me throughout my career. It has meant the world to me that you have been there."

It was odd that she named no one in particular, as most players will usually name their coaches, trainers, and family, but Mauresmo kept it short. After speaking, she quickly left the court to a deafening chorus of boos that Philip Chartier Stadium has never heard before or since.

At this point, the news of why Mauresmo had forfeited was still unknown to the media, and the OpNet press was bouncing off the walls trying to figure out what to say. ESPN commentator Brad Gilbert jokingly spoke the truth when he said, "looks like Momo might have taken a page out of Andre Corbin's book," referencing Corbin's own eruption during a live competition years earlier. In the absence of a real answer, Gilbert's joke became the only explanation of what could have happened, and Mary Carillo, Brad Gilbert, and John McEnroe had no choice but to run to with it.

Those close to Mauresmo have said that the headaches typical of an eruption manifested while in the locker room as she showered and prepared for the required post-match press conference. Much has been said about Mauresmo's character that she didn't skip the conference, despite the fact since couldn't play competitive tennis any longer, and any penalty the WTA tried to enforce would have been moot and she could have easily afforded the fine the tournament would have levied.

She showed up with wet hair under a ball cap pulled low and sat down without a word.

"You've just leveled the score at deuce," a reporter asked, "hitting the shot of the tournament. What happened out there?"

Mauresmo shifted uneasily. Some in the room claim that even then, you could see a difference in her, both physically in the shape of her face and the way she was moving.

"I don't really know," she said through the headaches, leaning on her propped up left hand. "I'm off the ad-court, and I see Sveta hitting an easy winner. I'm thinking the match is over now, and I've lost it again. And I want more than anything to be able to hit that ball back."

"But you hit it back," the same reporter insisted, "so why forfeit?"

Mauresmo sighed. "You saw her shot. She was meant to win the match."

Another reporter then asked, "The effort involved tracking that shot down was impressive. Did you strain something? You didn't call the trainer."

She shook her head. "No, no a trainer wasn't necessary. I...I just knew I couldn't take away from Sveta's win. I wasn't meant to win."

Finally, someone found the courage to ask her the question everyone was dancing around.

"Spectators near the chair referee say they overheard you telling Svetlana that you erupted. Is there any truth to that?"

Mauresmo shrugged. "Yes. I mean, I said that, and I think that's what happened."

"But you're not sure?"

"I will find out later tonight," she said softly. "I'm going to visit the Rashoud Facility here in Paris when we are done here. We'll know for sure then."

"So you forfeited because you thought you erupted?" another reporter queried. "What if you're wrong?"

"I forfeited because Sveta won the match," Mauresmo insisted, "and whatever I did after that did not matter."

"Most people would be elated to have erupted. How do you feel right now?"

"I wanted to win this tournament," she said with her head lower than before. "I wanted to win this tournament, and now I think that will never be possible. How would you feel right now?

The reporter took the bait and answered, "I think I would be ecstatic that I was a nova."

Mauresmo shook her head and sighed. "I don't know. Maybe, maybe I will feel happier about it later. Right now, all I'm thinking about was this was probably my last professional match, and I did not win. I did not win this title. It just feels like the worst thing that could have happened."

Reports about what happened at the Paris Rashoud Facility are vague, but those close to Mauresmo state she remained there long enough for her eruption to be confirmed and to get prescriptions for the necessary adrenocilin and moxinoquantamine to treat her headaches. She then left, refusing the invitation to remain and have her abilities tested, and returned to her home.

Once the media confirmed that Mauresmo had indeed erupted during the match, public opinion of her forfeit became very favorable. Most complimented her on having the integrity to end the match then, despite the score, and admit that Kuznetsova had legitimately won the match as no baseline player could have pulled off the miracle shot. She was nominated for and won several sportsmanship awards for the act.

That recognition, however, was little consolation for Mauresmo. It would be weeks before she appeared in public again, declining all invitations for interviews and OpNet press. Those close to her said she was as despondent over the loss of her tennis career as assuredly as if she had been on the receiving end of a career-ending injury. This was baffling to fans of the quantum-born; most people dream about one day becoming a nova and basking in the attention and power that normally accompanies it.

But Mauresmo had spent her life up to that point dreaming of being a tennis player and of one day winning the French Open, and with her eruption those dreams were forever lost to her. It's a very rare person that has the dedication and the talent to chase down a childhood aspiration and make a reality, and the mental anguish in having that aspiration-now-reality taken away from her, even under circumstances most would consider favorable, crushed her.

During this period, various nova agencies began to court her including DeVries and Project Utopia, and she politely refused their invitations just as she had the media. Rumors hint that Raoul Orzaiz managed to contact her via a phone call and that it did not go well. Apparently, his attempt to persuade her that dwelling on her baseline career was preventing her from seeing the new potential she had before her did not meet with her approval.

On her OpNet site, Mauresmo released a statement in October of 2007.

"I would like to thank all my fans, friends, and family who continue to send me words of appreciation and support. The past few months have been very difficult for me, and I am endlessly grateful to know so many people care about me. For those individuals who have criticized me for not celebrating my eruption when so many others are not as fortunate as I, let me be clear: I am not unhappy with being a nova. It is exciting to discover what things I am capable of doing that I never could have dreamed of doing before. Any disappointment I have expressed comes from being unable to play competitive tennis any longer. As a young girl, I never aspired to be a nova. I aspired to be the very best tennis player I could be. Part of me is still that young girl, looking at the courts of Wimbledon and Roland Garros and wanting nothing more than to play the final match of those tournaments under the sun."

In January of 2008, Mauresmo finally came out of seclusion and agreed to appear at the Australian Open and put on a demonstration of her nova abilities for charity. The night before the start of the tournament, a capacity crowd at Rod Laver Arena watched her put on a hitting display few could have anticipated. She painted the corners effortlessly with shots that exceeded two hundred miles per hour in speed; it was so difficult to see the ball in motion that her shots had to be replayed in slow motion on the video screens to glimpse what was really happening. Next, she hit a few strokes from off the court with so much backspin they could hit the service line and bounce back over the net. She then changed the spin on her shots so the balls hit the court and bounced off of it sideways instead of forwards. To emphasize that this wasn't merely trick shots, she performed the entire demonstration again while running across the court to retrieve the ball, instead of waiting for the ball to come to her.

Approximately fifty cameras were on scene for this event, and the footage has since been analyzed endlessly. Of note was her footwork; lighter than air in appearance and without a single wasted step or motion. The fluidity of her swing and the angle of attack she used with her racquet has also been praised. From a standpoint of physics, some say that it simply isn't possible for her to put more spin on the ball than she does and still have it travel at the speed it leaves her racquet. At least in terms of our current equipment technology, Mauresmo's demonstration reached the absolute limit of what can be done with exists. One can only wonder what she could do with equipment specifically designed for a nova.

It bears note that we have seen some god-like feats of dexterity and coordination since March of 1998, but tennis fans had never witnessed this kind of display. Many novas have erupted with superhuman agility, but Mauresmo's situation was unique in that this was the first time someone whose livelihood was based around hitting a yellow ball with a racquet gained it. Her nova abilities complemented an already honed and refined skill set, and what she did on the court that day was mind-blowing.

She never missed a shot.

Not one.

And not one of those shots could have been returned back to her by a professional player, which is something Mauresmo was quick to point out with the press later.

"Sure," she said in an interview with ESPN's Mary Jo Fernandez, "it is amazing to be able to hit shots like those, and create spin like I was. But what good is it? Who am I going to play against? It's not as though there is a professional nova tennis association where I could use these shots. Tennis isn't a sport at the nova Olympics. And that match everyone talks about between Skew and Hammerlock? That's not tennis. I feel as though I'm a glorified circus act. I certainly don't want to do this for a living."

Mauresmo went back into seclusion after the Australian Open. She was seen regularly throughout France dining out with friends and family, and attending wine tasting events, but did not put in any media appearances and nothing relating to tennis. Nor, many noted, did she do anything to draw attention to her nova status.

Upon learning that Mauresmo had been privately refining her nova coordination, a friend introduced her to the idea of participating in parkour and free running in May of 2008. After toying around with it for a few weeks, Mauresmo admitted she was quite taken with the freedom it allowed her.

"Sometimes," she posted on her OpNet site in June of 2008, "I find myself amazed what I am capable of doing. The tiniest movements and manipulations seem possible with my fingers. I decided to try juggling knives yesterday. This is no great feat. People have been juggling more dangerous items since we invented juggling. And yet, I couldn't help but notice how aware I was of the twisting of the knife in the air, of how I knew exactly where the sharp edge was at any given time and exactly what it would take to pluck it from the air. I've read that the brain automatically calculates this for you, but this seems greater than that. I decided to try catching only the sharp edges just to see if I could do it without harming myself, and it was a simple matter. I find the same kind of wonder in free running. My hands seemingly know where to grip without me thinking about it, and yet, I am thinking about it. I have an assuredness of touch, a confidence of motion that is very difficult to put into words."

She was invited by the producers of the Japanese program Kunoichi to have a private run at the women's obstacle course for their upcoming season. This happens often, it's just never broadcast; it's understood by the producers that most of the time it's not a matter of whether or not a nova can complete the course, it's how fast they complete it. The developers of the course use the data gained by how a nova completes it in the hopes of developing a nova-specific show.

"Although this show was created for baseline athletes," she wrote, "I thoroughly enjoyed my experience running it. Skipping across a pole or running at a full sprint across the balancing stones, I find I have a sense of liberation, that my body has been freed of limitations and restraint I once possessed. It's the loss of restraint that it is the most startling and the most enjoyable. I watched some of the other women there trying to complete a particularly difficult obstacle, and they always paused, or were cautious. Even if they completed the obstacle, I could still see the contemplation in their eyes, as if they had to think for a moment on how they might do it. There's a disconnect between the understanding and the execution. But I don't have that. I look at it and I instantly know and my muscles react exactly as I need them to. The clarity of thought and certainty of feel is incredible. I've felt this before, such as when I hit the trick shots in Australia, but I thought that same of that confidence must stem from my familiarity with tennis. I wish everyone understood what this felt like."

After Mauresmo completed it, she asked if they had anything more difficult. The producers invited her to try the course on their other program Sasuke, which was male equivalent of Kunoichi except that upper body strength is emphasized instead of balance. Mauresmo completed it as well, and was invited back to participate when the new nova-only course was perfected.

"Whenever that happens," Mauresmo remarked on her OpNet site later. "The problem with developing a nova-only course is the ability spectrum is far greater for novas than it is for athletes without quantum. Do you develop it for novas who can pick up automobiles or those that can pick up passenger jets? For novas that can balance inverted with one hand on the head of a nail or with a single finger? So many things to consider, and you have to have novas available to test the course, and then enough willing to appear on the show to make it worth the cost of developing it. I hope it will happen, eventually. I just can't imagine the nightmare it would be to create such a course."

Team Tomorrow began aggressively courting Mauresmo in September of 2008, apparently satisfied that her behavior post-eruption indicated they would not have another Andre Corbin PR disaster should they successfully recruit her. She spent a week visiting the T2M Europe team headquarters and conversing with various people involved in the operation. She eventually declined the offer.

"It takes a very particular type of person," she later wrote in December of 2008, "to be part of Project Utopia and I know that I'm not that person. Nor, in some ways, do I want to be. Ultimately, I'm not happy with the idea that if I'm not a part of the team, I'm wasting my eruption and the abilities I gained from it. Nobody said that to me directly, but it was the sense I got from being around many of the people involved. Not to point fingers too harshly, but the majority of them were not the novas themselves. I was a little concerned at just how much they wanted me to join. My eruption didn't give me the ability to fly, set things on fire, and standing next to people like Spencer Balmer made me feel somewhat useless. I mean, what can I really offer them?

"This really underscores one of the points I've been dwelling on since erupting at Roland Garros. What my eruption gave me was exceptional physical ability. Mostly in the areas of coordination, speed, balance, and movement, but I am also much stronger and heal much faster than I once used to as well. Raoul Orzaiz of Spain is fond of saying that he is an accomplished nova athlete, and I believe I fall into that kind of category. I'm a nova athlete. But what does one do with these abilities? I'm certainly not in the same league as a Griffin Armstrong. I'm not versatile like Pratima Basham. I cannot change the world like Dr. Balmer. I'm simply better than the normal human at doing physical activity. Perhaps I'm underselling my abilities when I say that, but I'm not one of those novas who can rescue the space shuttle, terraform Africa, or mediate a discussion between two national leaders. When you look at how novas have changed our world, my athletic aptitude, however superhuman it might be, seems to me to be quite meager.

"I have invitations to do a repeat performance of, or perhaps a more challenging version of what I did in Australia. That doesn't interest me. I don't want to perform. I don't want people coming to see me and applauding as though I am some glorified dolphin. I understand the desire to witness things you can't do yourself, but at least a gymnast in Cirque du Soleil had to work very hard to earn her spot on stage, and when you see her, you're marveling at the fact that someone not so unlike yourself is doing this amazing thing. When I hit backspin shots from behind the court, and everyone applauds, I can't help but feel separate from the crowd in a way I never felt when I was just a professional tennis player. And I don't like that.

"I don't want to move into any occupation that is just a few steps away from that, and I feel any position within Project Utopia would just be the same thing with a respectable uniform to mask what I was really doing. The same applies to the requests I've had from DeVries and other organizations that hire novas.

"In a personal sense, my eruption has been a wonderful experience, full of delight and joy as I explore what I can do with my abilities. Many common, everyday chores have become exercises in skill as I develop new ways to do the simplest things.

"In a professional sense, however, my eruption has been the worst thing that has ever happened to me. It did not open as many doors as people assume, and it has in fact closed many of them. I don't want to tour the world putting my agility on display. I don't want to become part of some nova team so people think I'm not letting my talents go to waste. I don't care how much money I'm being offered or how much fame I might acquire. I realize these opportunities are what many people dream of, and if I wasn't as financially well off as I am regardless of erupting, I probably would look upon them with a kinder eye. But money is not an issue to me, and because of this, what others might find attractive doesn't have the same allure for me. I never sat around dreaming about the things I might do if I became a nova. I was too busy preparing for the life I had and then living that life once I had attained it, and it was a life I very much enjoyed.

"I am being sought after for something I had no say in obtaining, and I'm finding that this something is the primary reason anyone has interest in me. I have many people from different avenues of life trying to pressure me into taking up their banner, ranging from those at Utopia to the French Olympic committee. Some of these people are saying that if I want to compete, I should just use my heightened agility to become good at an event at the nova Olympics and represent France. This is missing the point. I loved competing, but I loved competing at something I loved. Training myself to learn a new sport, however easy it might be given my ability to be good at nearly anything, doesn't mean I would love that sport. While I might eventually find something I love equally as I loved tennis, I'm not going to go out actively looking for it like a spurned lover trying to find a quick rebound to fill the hole in her soul.

"I realize I must sound terribly ungrateful of my eruption, given how many people want to become a nova. But if you are a scientist and you become smarter in your eruption, you are now a better scientist, and more universities and laboratories will want your assistance. If you're in business and now find yourself a much better negotiator, your eruption has made you more successful in your profession. If you are a soldier and you become tougher in your eruption, you are a better soldier, and there are many opportunities for nova soldiers. If you are a musician and you become a better musician after you erupt, you are enhancing your ability to do what you loved.

"When you are an athlete, however, you have suddenly become too good to do what you loved. In all the ways I thought my career would come to end, I never dreamed it would be because I became too good to compete at the sport I love. It hurts to be as good as I am at it now and have no outlet for it. I know saying these things will gain me little sympathy; most people dream of being professional athletes and even more dream of being novas and I've been extremely fortunate in life to have managed both. If I had my choice, though, I would rather not be a nova professional athlete."

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