Monday, July 30, 2012

Learning the Lesson


I got disappointed today and I took it really hard. I mean it wasn't even like I got a "no," it was a "not yet" but my gut just absorbed all the bad and held it really tight. Fortunately my brain absorbed the more nuanced truth and I responded politely with questions about how to move toward yes and how I can continue to improve in general.

Some might say I'm not honoring my feelings properly. To them I say, "You may be right but I don't think so. Also, we're out of ice cream please go get a couple of pints. I can't move I'm too busy crying with Missy Franklin's parents."

It's a pretty good idea to get your disappointments in a week where you're swimming in Olympics coverage. The lessons to be learned from these competitors are legion. The hardest lesson for me, always and forever, is to let go and move on. I hold on. I'm a gold medal wallower.

When I was in college I did a lot of stage managing. My favorite part of stage managing is what's known as "calling the show." You have a copy of the script with fancy notes you've made all over it and you call out to the people changing the set, operating the lights, and playing the sounds so that doorbells ring and sunsets fade and curtains close all at the appointed times. It's a total rush...right after you get over the sheer terror of all that responsibility. My first professional stage management teacher taught me, though, that the very most important thing in calling a show is not dwelling on mistakes. You can't go back because everyone else is still moving forward. Going back will only pile on more mistakes so you have to move forward, patching holes as you go. It was implied that, though she would always love me, she would find it harder to do that if I snow balled mistakes from one end to the other of her show. So I didn't.

Skimming through a recording of last night's late night Olympic coverage I saw the eldest member of the Romanian team, Catalina Ponor, do her beam routine. The announcer talked about how this was an event Ponor owned, it was the first thing she was noticed for. She mounted the beam and two elements in she had a big balance check. For someone else it might have ended in a fall. She breathed carefully, re-set herself and kept going. The next three or four things were so crisply landed I gasped.

Catalina Ponor is not a wallower. She can't afford to be. She's the better for moving forward and the judges rewarded her for it.

Ms. Ponor is a good teacher. The question is, how good a student am I?

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