Bargell: Channeling Gumby
There really is some strange sort of karma at work each time I decide to make my inner thoughts available for the outside world to view. Seems like each time I write on a topic, I find myself the next day, or even the next moment, wondering what on earth I was thinking. It goes something like this: Extol the virtues of patience, only to find myself vested with the patience of the proverbial gnat. There are days when I am sure a gnat demonstrates far more patience during its seven day or so life span than I am able to muster. When I’ve waxed nostalgic about how the kids are growing too fast, the next thing I know I’m hollering at them to get a move on because we are, sigh, once again running late. So certain am I that these setbacks will occur that I recently lamented to a friend in passing that I wished – just for once – that I was able to follow my own darn advice. Good intentions are one thing, good follow-through, however, seems just plain elusive, and I’ve been wondering why.
I should have known the answer would come at a basketball game. We are extraordinarily lucky in our county to have the Optimist youth basketball program. Not only do the kids have a great time learning the team skills, it gives us parents a chance to get out on those long winter nights. It wasn’t, however, the cheering or the socializing that helped me understand why I have been suffering so many set-backs of late. Rather, I think it was the steady back and forth, up and down the court that gave me my first clue.
Last night’s game was a fun one – but despite a good showing by the team, our daughter was a bit disappointed in her own performance. We did our best to encourage her, letting her know we thought she played just fine – although it seemed just as important for her to recognize that some games just are better than others. The most important thing, I counseled, was that she did her best, hustled hard and listened to the coaches. She did not find this to be very satisfying advice. She countered that she always tries to do her best, but last night she came up short. Like most parents, I don’t like seeing my child disappointed, but really there was nothing I could say except that tomorrow’s a new day, and that the next game will bring a chance to rebound – my next clue.
Later in the evening, I heard her giggling with a visiting aunt before heading off to bed. Seems her disappointment had worn off, and life was continuing, just as it should. When I stepped into her room to tuck her into bed, we kibitzed a bit about the day, as is our custom. I told her that I was glad that she was resilient, because often bouncing back is far more important than being on top of your game all the time. And, even though we had not before really explored the subject, she said she thinks being resilient requires reflection. It was then, with a bit of reflection, the whys of the last few weeks hit me. Perhaps the set-backs weren’t so much about karma, but rather a reminder that without resilience, we’re often left at the doorstep of defeat.
I then took a moment to look up the word. Resilience is the ability of a material to recover from a shock, insult or disturbance. What better sport to teach resilience than basketball. It’s all about the bounce-back, getting the rebound and taking it back down the court, time after time after time. I think resilience should be added to the already long list of International Baccalaureate attitudes, as even the most dedicated students would not get far if they did not have that ability to recover when an unexpected setback occurred. Apparently, I’ve been in need of a resilience make-over. And now I vaguely understand that my recent experience has been a great chance to look my failures square in they eye, brush it off, and get back out on the court.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. Confucius
Cindy Bargell lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She is a card-carrying PTSA member, real estate and natural resources lawyer and part-time gymnastics coach. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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