Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Skate Like Nobody's Watching

When my daughter was learning to skate at age six or seven, she fell down a lot. Maybe five times each lap around the rink, sometimes maybe every 10 feet of skating. That's a lot of falling.

But the funny thing about the falling was that every time she got up, she took off skating just as fast as she did before the fall. There was no caution, no fear, no whining, and no quitting. In fact, when her favorite songs came on, she even danced while she skated. "Hey," I said, from my spot skating alongside her, "You aren't ready to dance on skates. You can't really skate yet!"

And she laughed and kept dancing, and skating, and falling, and skating again.

Fear of falling never affected her enjoyment of skating. In fact, she learned to fall in a gentle, rolling sort of way. "Mama, if you fall right, it doesn't even really hurt!"

Just a few days ago, three or four years after she was a falling machine, a friend told me that she'd run into someone who described her son's fear of learning to skate. He wanted to learn to play hockey, but he had to learn to skate first, and he was afraid.

The boy's mom stood by the rink with him and noticed my tiny girl with her long blond hair whizzing by... and falling down. Over and over again. And Mom said, "Look at that little girl! She's learning to skate too. See how she falls down but she just gets back up again?" The boy decided that, if such a little girl could fall down and get back up again, so could he. Now, years later, he plays hockey, just like he wanted to.

And over the years, that little girl fell less and less often until one day she told me at the end of a skating session, "I didn't fall down AT ALL!"

Life is full of opportunities to fall down. Take them. You never know who you'll inspire while you're doing it.


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