Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gymnast falls but respect rises

I wrote last time about falling, and how our response shows our character. I couldn't help but think of that while watching the U.S. women's gymnastics team compete last night.

Alicia Sacramone (right) lost her balance and fell off the beam at the very start of her program, dimming the team's hopes for gold. She hopped up and finished her routine, but her face registered devastation.

Team members eventually smiled for the cameras and asserted that they were happy with their silver medal. But I suspect that darker thoughts were going through Alicia's head: I failed. I fell. People watching around the world will remember me only for that awkward tumble, not for the years of hard work, the success, the moments of perfection.

But that was not what I will remember. After seeing so many strong, graceful routines, I started taking perfection for granted, nitpicking tiny wobbles and forgetting that these young women are doing almost super-human things. Alicia's fall didn't lower my admiration of her; it made me even more aware of what she had accomplished, more in awe of her dedication. She makes it look easy. It isn't. It never was.

And maybe the next time I lose my balance, I'll stop to think: Don't assume you know how it will look to others. Remember Alicia. Rise again. And again. And again.


The Heretic said...

I prefer to pull for the underdog, and I certainly am not into hero worship.

What I would have loved to have seen, after Alicia bravely completed her flawed routine, was a thousand spectators rushing the floor, lifting her onto their shoulders and circling the arena while thousands of others cheered wildly.

It would have been a perfect celebration of our own imperfection, rather than the doubtful vice-versa.

Anonymous said...

amen Jane

Rising and falling, pressing towards the mark. That is life. I think it is important to have goals and winners and losers. Our character is tested in victory and defeat.

Anonymous said...

And India's first gold medal ever was just won by a computer game company CEO with a bad back...

As unlikely an Olympian champ as any.

Anonymous said...

Make that the first INDIVIDUAL gold medal for India...