Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Human Experience

This morning, my family and i attended a gymnastics meet for The Littlest Drama Princess. She and her fellow gymnasts were a bit more nervous at today's meet than they were at the last one, and that was hard to watch - and harder still to try to push them through it to overcome the butterflies and near-panic. In the end, each child tackled her own nerves and stomped on them as she walked through the struggle to the other side. Accomplished. Take that, fear!

One of the greatest moments i have ever experienced in my life thus far happened during that battle over nerves this morning. You see, when we go to these meets, there are 4-6 different gymnastics facilities represented. We have parents and coaches and teams from all around our area, people we have never met and will likely never see again. The girls in each team have 4 different events: Uneven Bars, Vault, Balance Beam, and Floor Exercise. Each event happens at all times, so the teams are rotated through the events in an orderly fashion, but nevertheless, all of the events have gymnasts performing - simultaneously.

So, as you can imagine, we move around and get the best view of our own child when it is her turn, we cheer on our home teams, and we leave room near the other events for those parents/families/friends. Pictures are taken, cheers are raised, and there is a lot of applause for each event, so it can seem disjointed when you are focused on one event and there is cheering and applause for another.

However, at a pivotal moment for one of our team's littlest and newest gymnasts, as she took the floor to begin her routine, she froze, panicked, and then... covered her face and began to sob. As we sat helpless in the stands, gymnasts all over the competition were still performing their routines in their events. We waited with bated breath, watching, whispering prayers for strength for this 4yo during her first-ever competition while the music carried on without her... and finally, the coach walked up to her and bent over to talk with her.

As the coach spoke to this precious child, still, the rest of the place carried on. But i was focused. "Lord, help that sweet child!" i whispered. "You've got this!" i tried to *think* across the rows of chairs and gymnastics mats to her frightened little brain. The coach spoke briefly with the judges and they agreed to let her start over.

She took her place. She squeezed her eyes shut. The music began. She marched out those steps in the beginning, eventually opening her eyes and waging that war with her fear, staring it down as she nailed the second, then the third, then the final segment of the routine. The music rang out its final notes. She saluted the judged. And the crowd went WILD. WILD, i tell you! EVERY parent there, every grandparent, every coach, every child, the WHOLE PLACE erupted in applause and cheers.

it.was.awesome.

My oldest daughter and i teared up, ready to hug every living soul in the room.
And my faith in humanity was restored.
There is still good in the world.
At heart, we care deeply, even about other people's children, whom we'll never meet.
And when terrible things happen, we get to glimpse that side of humanity as neighbor comes to the aid of neighbor. And when we see a child struggling with her fear, we cheer her on as if she was our own. That, friends, is all part of the human experience.

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