Thursday, March 11, 2010

Courage on Ice: Why An Olympic Performance Stirred My Heart

Apology to my readers: I meant to post this much earlier, but was held back by schoolwork.

Those who know me can tell you that I'm not really the kind who is interested in athletic events. I grew up being picked on by the "popular" girls and the "jocks" and thus my desire to watch sporting events had to emerge back
over time. I've actually never gotten to do something "talented" continuously since childhood. I know so many girls who were fortunate to take ballet since age 5, not back when they were age 5. I even tried ice skating at one point, but I was not cut out for anything it seemed, either in terms of talent or more-often-than-not in terms of our financial ability to continue. I eventually found my niche, of course, as a scholar--not an athlete, not a performer, not a dancer, not as any of the things I wanted so badly to be when I was a little girl. I often get depressed and think I'm not good enough for anything, even the dream I pursue now--and I'm positive many other women my age and of various ages empathize with this. So what made the difference?
My mother. My hard-working, tough-talking single mother whose personality couldn't be farther removed from mine if she tried: I love frills, and gothic literature, and textbooks, and fashion, and finery; she loves sports, the simple life, men (used to be boys when she was my age, which I don't give a hoot about), and making burp jokes that e
mbarrass me . She's the doe-eyed tomboy, I'm the finicky princess. But despite all these differences, we came together over my education--she believed in me, in my ability to win scholarships and to do something no woman in my family has ever done: graduate with a college degree. And I can safely say, without her I wouldn't be a senior in college in the top 10 of my class. My mother is the most important person in my life. She gave me strength.

Now, my mother seduced me into watching the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics this year and I'm very glad she did. It introduced me to a figure skater from Canada named Joannie Rochette. She performed her best in the final portion of the competition. She wasn't as technical as Mao Asada nor as precise as the winner Kim Yu-Na, but she had something propelling her blades that brought tears to my eyes: her love for her mother, who died of a heart attack only days before her daughter skated on Olympic ice. It was their dream: a mother's dream for her daughter, and a daughter's chance to let her mother see her success. And even with her mother's death heavy on her heart, she didn't let her down. Joannie Rochette literally skated her heart out: Every moment was so passionate, I felt like it ceased to be a skating competition and really transformed into a celebration of love, a moment of spiritual transcendence.

Photo credit: Getty
This is the NBC footage of her short program. I encourage everyone to watch it, even if you're not a big fan of figure skating. Normally, during performances, the announcers make calls (like in any televised sport). You'll notice they were speechless throughout her program, and as viewers could tell from the cracking of emotion in the broadcaster's voice as he returned, in awe of her dedication and courage. Not only did Rochette find the courage to skate in spite of the circumstances, but her powerful performances earned her the bronze medal and a spot on the Olympic platform.

I was honored to see an uplifting performance honoring the bond of mother and daughter, the most powerful relationship in my own life. So I'm taking this time on the blog to thank Joannie Rochette, and to thank all the other daughters who love their mothers and the mothers who believe in their daughter's futures.
I need to wipe my tears now and return to homework, but I hope I leave you all in strength and in love. Merci pour votre courage, Joannie. I picked the right year to watch the Winter Olympics.

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