Feb 24, 2010

Having a bad day

The world held its breath and then broke into tears as one on Tuesday night when Canadian skater Joannie Rochette skated her heart out for her mother and then collapsed in emotional agony.

But you'd never have known to watch her skate.

This capacity to remove one from the exigencies of the moment is one of the incredible things about this sport, whether teaching it or engaging in it. On September 11, 2001, I debated not attending my figure skating class. After some thought I went, and we spent a glorious hour and a quarter removed from the world. Not one of us thought about the horrors of the day for that period. The second we walked off the ice, it hit us, and we all marveled at how good it had felt to remove it from our thoughts through the joy of ice.

There are days when I walk into class and think, "I can't do this today." I'm angry at something, or had a bad day at my other job, or am frustrated with management or family or just the general state of things.

But you cannot bring that into class with you. You think that you just cannot bear it if one more timid, spoiled 4 year whines because her gloves don't match her skirt; you just want to march up to that parent and scream that they don't pay you enough to deal with their bratty kid.

Of course, you can't do that. And most of the time I don't actually feel that way about that kid. But on a bad day, you take a deep breath and reach inside and find the joy that is intrinsic to skating and teaching. You pull it out, like the game of reaching into your pocket for a smile, and you make yourself work through it. It's neither the child's fault, nor the parents' that your day is rough, and in fact they do pay you to deal with all the kids, bratty, charming and in-between. And after a while, you remember how to charm, coerce, trick or ignore the child into getting back into the game.

And along the way find, that you've charmed yourself into it too.

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