Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Life Is Like a Ski Lesson"- an Unseen Chapter From Dancers Among Us

Today is Hudson's seventh birthday.

One of the most amazing things about parenthood is the self-reflection that comes from watching a child's journey. In Dancers Among Us, many chapters in the book are introduced by essays exploring the ways in which my children inspire me to see the joy in everyday life.

One chapter, titled "Being," was cut from the book. I would like to share part of the (unedited) essay I wrote for that chapter, because it highlights one of countless moments of illumination inspired by my children over the past seven years.

Hudson before his first ski lesson

Life is like a ski lesson

This thought came to me as I watched Hudson snowplow down his first hill.

At first, we have the confidence of innocence; everyone else seems to be doing it easily, so how hard can it be? Then we feel the slippery ground under our feet and life is suddenly precarious. We start moving, but it’s scary and we want to stop; the mountain looks steep. We creep slowly forward, clinging on for safety. After a long struggle, we find our footing. We coast down the mountain with confidence; then we speed down with arrogance. We get over-confident and fall. The fear of another tumble is unsettling, so we slow down and move with renewed apprehension. If we’re lucky, eventually we find equilibrium.

I haven’t found my equilibrium.

I speed, I fall, and then I speed again. I try to slow down and find balance, but only briefly. I get restless and look for a steeper mountain. I have often benefited from this relentless sense of urgency, but I live in an almost constant state of preoccupation. Sometimes I envy people who resist the temptation to speed forward, and instead allow themselves to just “be.”

What does it mean, to “be?” Is it to be content? Present? Reflective? Serene? I recognize it when I see it, but I don’t know how to describe it. I see it in my children. A child’s innate self-acceptance is enviable. I have been a father for over six years, and my children have always been unflinchingly genuine. I keep changing into different clothes during the party, trying to find what fits best. Hudson and Salish stay in the same outfit.

The dancers on the following pages have found the clothes that fit the best. They show me a place I know exists, but I have yet to find the key that opens the door. 

Dancer Among Us Nolan McGahan of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in Aspen, CO

Happy Birthday, my beautiful boy. Thank you for the inspiration. I love you.

Hudson last night