Thursday, January 29, 2015

Between a man and a girl.

The other night at my health club, I found myself walking around the track.

I found myself somewhat stuck behind an older gentleman and a young girl. The man had more than his fair share of pepper in his hair, but truth be told, he could have been anywhere from 40-60.

The girl wasn't a day over 4.

After I finished my workout, I hit the track to do some high-stepping, stretching and general cool downs.

Normally I use this time to relax; figuratively let go of my frustrations, my worries, my day.

Instead, as trailed man & girl, I felt an uncomfortableness grow deep within me, a stir that I usually leverage for my long runs and my extreme workouts. A stir of unrest that powers me to places that a balmy calmed demeanor could not climb.

But I was caught. I was hooked on the story. A story. 

Between a
Man.

And a girl of four.

She started the tale with a burst of jubilant enthusiasm, "Did we win?"

He paused for effect and replied, "Is it all about winning or is it all about learning how-to?"

Her words, this time with pain and doubt, stumbled out; "It's all about learning how-to..."

Him: "Are you sure?"

Her words, jagged with anxiety and dripping with pause, "Noooo, but youuuuu said..."

Him: "Sometimes it's about learning how-to because it's not always about winning."

Her: "DID WE WIN?"

Part of me wants to tell you that the man broke down and declared victory, flung the girl high up on his shoulders and paraded her around for all the world to see & celebrate her.

Part of me wants to stop the circle of frustration and anxiety that caught me that night, to spare you from it all.

But I can't. For we live in a world that doesn't work that way. We live in a world where the man continued chiding this girl of four, under the guise of parental authority, equality & education for all that indeed, it's not what you think and dream, it's only what it is. And worse, it's indecision and indifference that scars the deepest. 

The girl and man continued for a bit, just as I did. And in the end, the girl stopped asking if they won. They did not celebrate or pretend play or laugh or run like wild horses. They simply changed their shoes and left the building. And I left. With a story of why so many girls spend the rest of their lives trying to overcome feelings of fear and self-doubt. 

# # # 

Lessons learned here:

1. The worst thing you can do is take a passionate person and make them not care.

2. Also, never ignore the chance to tell a girl she totally kicked ass.