Ebb and Flow

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 20, 1999

By DEBORAH CORRAO / L’Observateur / March 20, 1999

Today my 7-year-old granddaughter Carley will be attending her first competitive gymnastics meet. It hardly seems possible that she will beentering the competitive arena with only five months of training behind her.

In her sport, acro-gymnastics, she works with a partner (her partner, Nicole, is only nine). During a three-minute carefully choreographedroutine, she and her partner must display a series of intricate skills that not only involve concentration but could be potentially dangerous if not performed correctly.

Sometimes I watch her at practice, straddling high above her partner’s shoulders as the partner descends into a split on the floor. Or jumpingfrom her partner’s shoulders into a back flip, landing on the mat, feet together, legs straight.

For several months she has been weaned from performing the skills in a belt until she had enough confidence and ability to do them alone.

In competition she can’t count on the support of the belt or her coach being nearby. She will be on her own-just 40 pounds of grimdetermination.

What amazes me is that she shows no fear.

How liberating it would be if all of us could go through life like she does.

When do we start developing that immobilizing fear that keeps us from doing the things we’d really like to do-fear of rejection, fear of failure.

We could all take a lesson from these little gymnasts.

We can compare our life experiences to a training period. We can drawupon the skills we’ve learned in the past to accomplish the things we want to do now.

There’s no guarantee that we will perform perfectly every time. But wecan pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, cry a little bit if we have to, and try again. Try again.There’s no guarantee that life will not have its disappointments. At timesthese disappointments hurt so much that we give up. We throw away ourhopes and dreams for fear of getting hurt again. Carley doesn’t alwaysland on her feet. And neither will we. She may take it on the backside orfall flat on her face. It’s all part of the process of growing in strength,endurance, and skill.

There are times that we, too, may fall flat on our faces or various other parts of our anatomies. But we can do what Carley does. Pick ourselves up,get a drink of water if we have to, take a deep breath, focus and try again.

Years from now, when we look back at our lives, we will not look back in regret at the times we persevered, the times we picked ourselves up and worked towards our goals.

Today I will be watching Carley flying through the air, finding myself at times wanting to gasp but but holding it in so as not to infect her with my fears. But, most of all, I will be bursting with pride in heraccomplishments.

And I will be praying that, no matter what the outcome of today’s meet, that she will be able to take what she learns and face the rest of her life with the same fearlessness and fortitude.

Copyright © 1998, Wick Communications, Inc.

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