Remember the last time you ran down a hill, balls-to-the-wall, no holds barred fast? No thought of the end of the run, your feet, your knees, your jiggly boobs, or bouncing ass – or – most horrifically – what others would think? Remember?
Yeah, me neither.
Show choir competitions show me more than dance and music: they show me kids who are all-in. I try to watch the whole stage, but in every group my eye is invariably drawn to the girl or guy who is leaving it all on the stage. All smiles, all choreography, all singing: they perform as if the whole show rests on their shoulders.
On New Year’s Day a dear friend of mine had a sledding accident in which more than one bone was broken. Lying in a ditch, she had to call out to a nearby child to go find an adult. She was hospitalized for several days. When I talked to her recently, she mentioned she was still going to go sledding. Many people would hang up their flexible flyer after such an accident – I probably would.
How about the one where you meet a new person, and you think, “Damn, this is a cool person.” You want to hang out, get to know him or her, but you must moderate your desire. It doesn’t matter if it’s a friendly relationship or a more romantic one: you have to hold back. Time your calls. Pace your texts. Any time after about first grade, it’s just not cool or acceptable to be really excited about a person.
How did we learn these restraints? Why do we brake ourselves? What has led us to the idea that if we get scared we should give up? Answers: life, pain, rejection, fear.
So many of us can remember when a counselor or parent told us, “You can’t do that – you’ll never make a living at it.” Just yesterday at the aforementioned show choir competition, I was working concessions with another mom. She mentioned her middle school daughter wants to go to college for make-up design. “Very cool,” was my reply. The mom went on to say that the daughter would need to have to have a back-up in case “Hollywood didn’t work out.” The now-defunct college counselor inside of me silently agreed, but the real me said, “Kids have a cool way of putting things together and creating the jobs they want. It’s no longer a be-a-doctor-lawyer-accountant-or-teacher world.”
My friend’s broken bones do not call me to the sledding hills any time soon, but I have taken up boxing. Hitting that bag with hand-wraps and gloves on: I love it. I’m all in. I’m a badass. But still, I balked when a colleague burst into incredulous chortles, “Really? Huh, well, okay.” Why do we rain on each other’s parades? If you’re lucky enough to find an activity you love – then do it. Don’t let anyone cast a shadow on you.
This past September I attended a wedding. The bride and groom were my age, and this wasn’t the first time around for either of them. The thing really struck me about this gathering – and continues to inspire me still – is that these two people are really into each other. And, they weren’t afraid to show it. I saw it at the wedding and in their Christmas card: they have the kind of I’m-crazy-about-you-and-I-want-everyone-to know love that one doesn’t often see.
Society tells us not to phone. Echos tells us we are losers and shouldn’t try. Friends advise us to decline the once too often invitation. Our pasts whisper that we don’t have the talent to take up something new. Our bodies hide from the possible laughter of others. The siren call of the you are not enoughs lure many to shipwreck against the rocks of premature old age and resignation.
We cannot let that happen. Not to ourselves. Not to our friends. So, do your thing. Make that call. Take up that sport. Join that group. Get excited! And, when you do, ignore all naysayers (most especially those inside your head) and instead think of the response a friend of mine had when I told him about a goal of mine: “That’s so fucking cool!”
It is. He’s right.