I remember watching with fascination and dread the ice skating championships at the Olympics at Sochi in 2014.
Some of the most artistic, disciplined, skilled and graceful performers in the world took to the icy rink with bold courage. Taking enormous risks, they spun and twirled with big smiles and great passion — speeding around the rink to loud music, from classical to rock to blues.
I always noticed how clenched my hands were when the music begin and the figure skaters would begin their performances. Presenters would say things such as, “… And now here comes the triple twist, and that’s going to be a tricky one.” The daring feat in the air would be attempted, the athletes would land securely, then they would speed away — ready for the next challenge.
These moments were magical and terrifying all at once. I would loosen my hands only when the figure skaters landed safely back on the ice, thankful and amazed as a viewer that the athletes had “made it.”
What was most wrenching was when a graceful skater would out of nowhere lose his or her balance, crashing onto the ice. The audience would gasp. How devastating it was to witness. My heart would sink for their painful moment. But my distress often was not reflected by the performers. My concerns did not appear to be theirs. They quickly recovered from the fall and continued on with the rest of the routine — with smiles and courage and determination to go on.
Despite losing points, the skaters showed great resilience, courage and confidence; they picked themselves up and immediately carried on and finished what they set out to do.
In that moment of failure, they continued to fulfill their obligations and commitments to themselves, their partners, their audience and to the world. This was what was most impressive.
What I also noticed was the love so often given by team members when the skaters came off the ice, regardless of the falls or glitches in performance — the support the athletes received as they moved across to the panel to receive their scores (albeit marked down from this or that fall). The skaters’ waves and smiles were genuine, in the spirit of knowing more was to be learned and gained from every experience.
The journey of successes and failures, both, is a necessary one; it serves to create a richer, well-rounded, wiser and happier human being.
There’s great value in the experience of falling down, getting up, learning from our failures and going on. Moving forward, secure in the knowledge that the duality of these experiences is necessary and essential in shaping us into the valuable souls we are on our forever-evolving journey of life.