A Letter of Appreciation To my Adult Students and To the Adult Skaters of the World…
This week, while many adults are converging in Lake Placid for the 2008 U.S. Adult Championships, I would like to take the opportunity to express my sincere appreciation and admiration for your skating endeavors. For though, by definition, you are a bit “longer in the tooth” than other skaters and with that comes a whole host of challenges (including sometimes, tripping over your teeth), your excitement is evident, your enjoyment contagious, and your improvement impressive. Whether you are competing this week or not, your specific efforts in this sport (and contributions to my own enjoyment of it) deserve to be documented.
First there is your wacky schedule. Thank you for getting up when it is dark and coming to the rink while saner people still slumber so that you can squeeze in your skating before commuting to work. Thank you for arriving with a spring in your step and a smile on your face, and carrying your nicely-pressed work clothes on a hanger you hook on the ledge by the front desk. Thank you for coming to your lesson even though you were awake all night worrying about the fate of the planet or riding in an ambulance on your way to volunteer EMT calls. Thank you for scheduling your conference calls around our lesson and running over on your lunch break. Thank you for unloading your pockets and piling your cell phone, keys, blackberry, coins, and work ID on the barriers so that you are not weighed down by them while you skate. Thank you for driving to a rink that is far away from your home on your only day off. Thank you, by the way, for e-mailing me the notes you typed up after our lesson.
Then there is the issue of practice and your genuine understanding of its importance. Thank you for practicing with such earnestness and diligence of your own accord, without me having to nag you. Thank you for bounding over tall buildings and solving all kinds of logistical algorithms in order to get on the ice for even a half hour of 3 turns. Thank you for offering detailed reports (complete with spreadsheets and graphs) of your practice week including, with no small amount of guilt, the fact that you had to miss one day for a perfectly legitimate reason like assisting an aging parent, traveling to Chicago for work, or taking your dog to the vet so he could have that cyst removed from his nether regions. Though I’m not sure it was entirely wise, thank you also for coming to the rink even when you had a herniated disc in your neck, a mysterious golfball-sized bump on your knee, and even after you dropped a chair on your toe.
I have noticed that you are very good sports. Thank you for gamely re-taking tests when a panel of judges has suggested that you “Retry” them. Thank you for tracking down a skating skirt then debuting this strange garment the day before the test, as a dress rehearsal. Thank you for letting your eyes well with tears and hugging me in celebration of passing your first test. Thank you for persevering to get your Gold medal though the path to get those last four dances was seven years long and riddled with injuries (both mine and yours), necessitated several pairs of new skates (both mine and yours), and was interrupted by all kinds of a life obligations (again, both mine and yours.)
Thank you for asking me to explain the same element in 450 different ways so that you may analyze it from just as many angles. Thank you for forcing me to call upon the Laws of Physics, though I never officially learned them in a classroom and have only loosely picked them up as a skater. Thank for helping me to expand my arsenal of analogies. Thank you for understanding my sometimes odd vocabulary and also for, very appropriately, making fun of it “with vigor.” Most of all, thank you for laughing at my jokes (which I know has not been an easy feat.)
Thank you for subscribing to the adage that we should all try things that terrify us once in a while and for wearing your wrist guards along the way. Thank you for trying to conceal the look of abject terror in your eyes and attempting to appear relaxed by increasing the space between your shoulders and your ears (though I suspect you are still clenching your toes like little fists inside your skates.) Thank you for taking up a new activity in the search for personal fulfillment and, through your example, reminding me that I want to become fluent in French, learn how to paint something slightly more complicated than polka-dots, and maybe even try something like…clogging or…power-knitting.
Thank you for so openly envying the way I demonstrate a line of outside edges because, later in the day, my students may not even notice what I just demonstrated, let alone be impressed with it. Thank you for showing interest in my skating background and for believing me when I tell you that all the videotapes of my performances were destroyed in a bizarre, tragic fire.
Thank you for sharing with me your skating mantras, skating revelations, and introducing me to the rather kooky, yet also rather comforting concept of prayer skating. Thank you for helping me to appreciate the adventure that is skating and all the ways it instructs, informs, mimics, and affects other areas of our lives. Thank you for helping to provide Perspective, a commodity we can never have enough of, no matter our profession.
Oh, yeah, and thank you for confirming your lesson! I’ll see you tomorrow.
Check out my icenetwork articles featuring competitors at Adult Nationals this week: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080409&content_id=47184&vkey=ice_news
And something quite upsetting happened to me last week here in New York City, prompting me to write a letter of a very different nature. Check it out by clicking on “Cusp of Greatness” over in the column to the right.