Walking on air

The only “talent” show I remember being in was in third grade, when me and two friends played the theme song to the Greatest American Superhero on our flutes. The other third graders sat indian-style on the floor and the three of us positioned our chairs in a tight huddle so we could share sheet music and pretend no one else was there. I still have the recording somewhere and it is just as painful as you might imagine, only worse. During recess, the three of us pretended to be cats and dogs having adventures and once we got into a real cat-and-dog fight over something I do not remember now, though I do remember how everyone stared because my face got all red and welty from crying. I’ve never worn emotion well.

My youngest was in her first talent show last weekend. She’s in kindergarten, so her act consisted of three 5-year olds narrowly missing each other with a dizzying array of willy nilly half-cartwheels, one-legged jumping and devil-may-care spinning. Each act was limited to two minutes, which is about 30 seconds longer than the average person’s attention span for amateur gymnastics, though you get to add an additional 15 seconds if the kids are cute, and kindergartners are really really cute.

During the talent show, I sat through 4 renditions of Katy Perry’s Roar. For the math-impaired, I have a calculator, so sit back and let me handle this. That’s 480 seconds of feel-good earworm, but none moreso than when a 2nd grade girl in a glittery fedora and MJ gloves belted it out and moved me to tears. In addition to weddings and many movies, I also cry at dance recitals and talent shows. The subtle wiping of each eye a half-minute apart is as much a dead giveaway as a red, welty face.

We were in the car the next day when my kindergartner asked me how come the 2nd grade girl could sing so good. You and I know some people just have it. They’re born with it, whether it’s a set of pipes that make old ladies tear up in darkened auditoriums or a natural grasp of calculator-free math or maybe it’s writing or pie making or oil painting. These are god’s gifts, though they are of no use if they don’t get used, and so I told my girl “She practiced.”

This answer didn’t satisfy my girl and she asked me how the 2nd grader practiced and I told her she sang the song over and over again and got better and better at it. Minutes later I heard a tiny little voice singing from the backseat and I smiled and we drove someplace to make things together out of clay that look like they were all made by a kindergartner, which is an insult to kindergartners everywhere.

Practice may not make perfect, but it makes almost anything easier. Each day I didn’t drink in the early days made it easier to get through the next day. Each time I go out for a run, it builds muscle and lung for the next run. Writing feels more fluid and fun as I write more. I’m staying away from cartwheels and singing, but with enough practice I bet I could move you to tears of some kind or another.

Whatever you want, stick with it. Don’t give up.

And here’s one more picture because how often do you get to post a picture of 3/4 of your family on a couch flanked by storm troopers? Not often enough, I say.

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20 thoughts on “Walking on air

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  1. I showed this picture to my 5 year old son and I had to drag him away from the computer. “There’s Boba Fett! There’s Boba Fett!” Anything touching makes me cry too but my husband is the worst. We sob together on the couch watching commercials during the holidays. It’s one trait I hope we never lose. 🙂

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    1. Boba Fett even had some kind of digital number readout on his awesome costume. He was part of a troup that visits children’s hospitals and charity events, and last weekend they were at a big roller derby event. They were a hit with kids and adults alike. And I hear you about holiday commercials! Let the tears roll.

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    2. Err… I just did the same.. but there’s noone here… oh well. See Boba Fett is interesting cos he was an untrained clone from the original clone which then made all of the clone army i.e. the stormtroopers… I take this way too seriously don’t I?

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  2. I just hit publish on my post, and go to the reader to make sure it actually published, and what is right below it but this post. You will laugh your head off when you read my title (I will not ruin the suspense). We are, apparently, as in sync as ever.

    I cry during every talent show too, this is one that does not get easier as time passes; if anything, my heart fills even more as older kids show this kind of courage.

    I will be smiling at your husband’s blase look… “So what if storm troopers are in our house?”… all day. That picture is priceless, and my day is much better for having seen it (and, as you will read, I need a good smile!).

    Thanks for the lift, Kristen!

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  3. Catch me at the right moments (often) and I will weep reading a furniture store flyer or watching a hand soap commercial. Does it have kids? Then pass me a mouchoir, because it’s going to get snotty. But I love what you said about sticking with things. I still have a very hard time with that. I tend to have that “if I don’t get it perfect the first time, forget it!” streak in me still. I am much better, but my interest wanes in some things. I think there is a wild, child-like instinct or cue to the things that capture our imaginations. It’s the thing about experiencing something for the first time and realizing that something clicked big time, and you just know that it’s going to be a part of your life. I felt that will alcohol, if you can believe that. I never thought it would be THAT part of my life ,but I knew it would change me…and it did. Big time. But it’s also brought me here, with all of you. And I get to learn and do things (run) that I never thought I would do (writing, etc).

    So I will do my best to stick to whatever it is that will capture my imagination.

    And yeah…Best. Picture. EVER.

    (love your husband’s almost sardonic, bemused look. I want to hang out with him)

    Blessings,
    Paul.

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    1. I feel guilty if I give something up that I’d wanted to work on, but even that feels natural sometimes. Like just because I put it down now doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t pick it up again. I can think of a couple hobbies or interests I have on the backburner now and I think that’s always the case. It is fun to try new things and even better to share and learn from good people like yourself.

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  4. I felt nothing. But maybe some allergies. And the beginnings of strep throat.
    I’m tough like that. Not like Paul.
    That is a nice picture, though.
    Maybe I think your daughter is the cutest kid ever invented. Maybe I don’t. You’ll never know, because I have this hard-to-read steely-eyed look. That’s maybe a little juicier than usual because of a high pollen count.

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    1. She is the kid who let another kid (okay, my kid) tie her up with yet another kid’s belt. I could do a flow chart, but I’m sure it still would have been puzzling to see her run in the other direction when I told her I was going to remove the belt and give her freedom. It makes me feel a bit headachey or nauseated to recall it.

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  5. Love the photo… I’m just like Karen’s five year old… should I just have admitted that? Whatever

    I’m in the middle of rewatching all the Star Wars films – they’ve had them on the TV here on Sat afternoon – but I’m watching them mostly on DVD – I’ve one more to go – watching them in sequence 1 thru 6 not as released. My poor daughter just doesn’t get the prequel thing – “So Anakin was Darth Vader?!?!? But he was a nice kid and was in the later films… wasn’t he?” It’s become a family joke that I will die before I’ve got her to understand the Star Wars plot line – Jez it’s not that hard!!!

    I remember doing talent shows about 10 or 11 with my first band. There we were banging out a Status Quo song to a bunch of Mums Dads, Aunts, Grandmas etc. Then next up a girl twirling a baton – which she dropped and she won!!! Boy the ignominy of it all LOL

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  6. I seem to be last to so many posts and spend as much time learning about others as I do the author. I forgot what I was going to say when I read it. It must not have been so important. What I do remember is the photo. This tears me up. To see you all sitting there and knowing the direction your life has taken over the past years. The commitment you make on a daily basis. What a gift. Apparently this was what I was supposed to write because it’s what I typed. Feeling gratitude for my sober friends. Thank you for sharing your life with us. We are all richer for knowing each other. xox

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    1. Oftentimes I read the posts but not the comments because I’m short on time. And I hate doing that because that is where the real meat is, you know? Well you do know, obviously. We are all richer for knowing each other, couldn’t agree more.

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  7. I’m just going to say it, BEST picture EVER. I mean, seriously, Stormtroopers and Boba Fett? Awesome.

    I remember the Greatest American Hero! I used to tie my Mother’s red table cloth around my neck so I’d have a matching cape while I watched it!

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