My daughter dances. I mean like, competitively. Make-up, eyelashes, sparkling costumes. All of it.
She's danced since she was three-years-old. She's now 16. We started out with the cutesy little recreational classes that ended with a recital that had puffy dresses, big bows and a tear-jerker of a song about little girls growing up which made the daddies dig into their wallets to sign up for the next season.
Dance studio: one. Daddy: zero.
I never pushed my daughter to dance. This was something that she truly enjoys doing. She pushes herself to be the best and over the years as I've watched wobbly turns become beautiful leaps I am always amazed at her endurance and perseverance. I've observed her work on the same combination for hours on end, perfecting it until she was content that it could be done consistently to her high-quality standards.
She always has a song going in her head, which she dances to through the aisles of the grocery store, bookstore, school hallways. Dancing is her best friend. It is something that will always be there, will never let her down and will be with her unconditionally. Not very many things meet those qualifications, especially when dealing with a teenage girl. Goodness knows I don't.
As I have watched my daughter dance her way through thirteen years, two things come to mind: Why can't we all be that driven in the things we do and why can't we be as devoted to one activity for as long as she has?
Now mind you, dancing is tough. She spends many hours a week at the studio, her body is conditioned to the point of giving Jillian Michaels a run for her money and some of the combinations she does seem impossible in the world of physics. All this said, dance is a sport, just like any other sport. Don't let anyone tell you differently. It's not pretty costumes and fancy shoes. She sweats. She falls. She pulls muscles and gets hurt. Yet through all of it, she continues to love to dance.
The benefits outweigh the risks. And these benefits have carried into other parts of her life.
She's an amazing student, a true friend, a great little sister. She has allowed the ambition she has with her dancing lead her into success in other areas of her young life, establishing good habits which will continue to carry her a long way.
Can you imagine what it would be like if we adults took something, one thing, that we enjoyed and set out to be the best we could be at it? Would the benefits of success carry over into the rest of our lives?
I believe so.
So why aren't we doing this?
Is it because we are focused on quantity instead of quality, being too involved in too many things to be great at any of it? Is it because we are too selfish to allow other people to outshine us in some areas because we want to be able to claim it as our own? Or have we simply become so passive that we just don't care about quality anymore; we are okay with settling for mediocrity because, well, everyone else is doing it?
I would like to think that these effects are reversible. I would like to think that we could all better ourselves, which would in turn better others, which would, in turn, better the world.
Just as my daughter sashays onto the stage and the spotlight shines on her and the music begins to play instructing her to begin her well-prepared routine, so it is with us in life.
The only difference is how prepared we choose to be.