On Friday, I took Max and a friend to go see the Washington Capitals practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. I thought it would be an opportunity for him to see his heros up close and personal. I thought it would be a chance for me to see how fast those boys really can skate, something that never fails to amaze me.
The best moment of the morning came when Alex Ovechkin, (for you non-hockey fans he is the star player on the Caps and in many circles thought to be the best player currently in the NHL) fell down. He wasn’t doing anything all that hard (for him at least). He wasn’t even going all that fast. He was just skating, maybe thinking of something else, and he tumbled. He lay there on the ice for a few seconds and then started to giggle. Then he got up and dusted himself off and started to skate again.
The moments when we witness our heros doing something amazing are indeed breathtaking–the unbelievable goal, the leaping of a star center fielder, the slam dunk that hangs in mid air for what seems like minutes or for that matter the perfectly played song, the crowd rousing speech, the essay that makes you cry. But if you ask me, Alex’s little tumble there, was a mama’s wish come true, as magical a moment as ever there was. I was able to look Max in the eyes and say, “See that…We all fall down. Even Ove falls. And then he gets up and keeps skating.” That fall meant more to both of us, than all of the Great Eight’s goals put together.
Sometimes it is so easy, for Max, oh shoot, for me to believe that we are the only ones who stumble. And not just on the ice. It is so easy to believe that I am the only one who loses her patience or her train of thought or can’t keep the house organized. It is so easy to believe that I am the only one who has been playing guitar for over a year and still can’t play the F chord, or for that matter strum the easy chords cleanly.
Lately, the house and the guitar and the inability to form a coherent sentence are not the things that make me feels so alone. No–its other things. Its been the fact that my life feels every bit like it is on the verge of breaking open but some days just feels stuck and unmagical and impossible to move through. Its been the fact that while I am embracing the stillness and silence of winter with awe, I sometimes find myself unable to settle. Its been the fact that while I am mostly hooting and hollerin’ while I run the rapids of my life, I sometimes still break into a complete panic and even worse feel stuck, paralyzed and just so damn lonely. And at those moments it is so easy to just sit down, stop, give up and say, “Why bother”. To gracefully admit defeat. To compromise and tell myself its OK that we all fail. Do I really need to live this way? Can’t I just go to sleep, wrap a blanket around my tired body and throw in the proverbial towel.
But then, there are moments like Ove’s moment. The moment where the only thing left to do is giggle, roll over, dust off and get back on my feet.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about what it takes, what it costs, to live authentically. I think it costs a lot. Not in the way some might believe–the funny looks, the fewer resources, the people who think I am strange. Sometimes, it is so damn exhausting to put my heart out there all the time, to keep chosing to stay awake, to stay with my fear, my loneliness and my joy.
And yet I don’t know what other choice there is to make, what other place there is to go but here, this wide open place. With every breath, even when I am tired, even when it seems impossible I need to choose to get up again, keep skating.
As the holidays fade and we get back into the rhythm of every day life, my wish for you is the strength to choose to live however authentic looks to you. And whether you giggle or cry when you fall may you choose to get back up.