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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Being Okay In the Moment

I have Olympics fatigue. If I see one more car commercial, I’m going to scream. And where is the footage of the Decathlon and Heptathlon? And why do women get “hept” and men get “dec” athlons? And why do beach volleyball playing women wear wedgie-bikinis?

I’m also thinking ‘bout Aly Raisman. Gymnast extraordinaire. The one right up there with Simone Biles, just under her on the podium, usually sporting silver to Simone Biles’s gold medal. Thinking about her parents. Have you all seen the footage of them watching her compete? It’s hilarious. It’s also so painfully relatable. Sports being a metaphor for life and all, that is parenting in the proverbial nutshell: You want to be there for every moment with your child, to support her, to root for her, to encourage her to go out there and take risks, but you suffer. Her parents looked like they were ill from strain. They were twisting around on their seats, especially Mama Raisman (actually Faber), who was weaving and wringing herself like a white flag of surrender hung out in a storm, battered by the wind, pelted by the rain, shredded and weathered by the seasons, but hanging. I totally related.

Well, what did you expect, Readers? I’m at a moment - that’s Moment with a capital-M. My elder will be leaving for college in nine days. It feels like the end of something. Even though I know we will see her again, it feels like a change. I remember when I left for college. I didn’t think it was really going to change things, but after the first summer, I never went home permanently. So I am having this Moment. 

Another thing Aly Raisman has me thinking about is mudita, a Buddhist term interpreted as wishing well for others. Rejoicing in others’ good fortune. I think Aly Raisman has exhibited mudita towards Simone Biles, who is the only one on the US gymnastics team who performed better than her. Sure, maybe it’s easy for Aly Raisman to feel - or, let me be clear, appear to feel - happy about the little Tide Pod’s extraordinary accomplishments because her own have been quite amazing, too. 

But I could see things turning dark for Aly Raisman. After all, this is her second or third Olympics, and she is in her prime, and here comes this first time Olympian with her unbeatable degrees of difficulty in her routines and her plethora of lucrative product endorsements (Tide, for example). Aly could go dark. She could go all, “Why me?” She could get all in her own face for not being just that tenth or two of a point better. She could wallow and wail about all her effort and being thwarted in her “quest for gold,” as I can just hear that suit-wearing Bob Costas saying. 

But she does not appear to be at all frustrated. She appears supportive and encouraging and - dare I say it - proud of her teammate. She seems not to take losing personally, as indicative of something she lacks, but rather to see Simone Biles’s success as reflecting on Simone and not on her. She doesn’t seem to be zero-sum about things, even though there is a zero-sum quality to a competition. The gymnast seems to feel comfortable with herself. 

Earlier today I was talking to a friend who said, “I’m thinking about being okay in the moment and okay with what I’ve done.”  Good idea. 

When you can do that, you can have mudita for your teammates. When you can do that, you can say you have done the best you could for your soon-to-be 18-year-old-college-first-year child. When you are happy with who you are and what you’ve done in the moment, you have succeeded. 

So my Moment requires preparing for change. Change is constant, as they say, and yet I've always approached change like a maniac holding onto a slender tree trunk caught in a flash flood. That is, I try to avoid it. Well, that's where I am. I'm experiencing that and trying to be okay with it. Being present is one of the elements of my scaffolding of success, and right now, that's my focus. I'm feeling a bit like Mama Raisman (actually Faber) looks while her daughter performs. So be it. I'm hanging in there. It's what's required of me right now. I'm kind of okay in a difficult moment, and when I look at my daughter, of whom I'm so very proud, I'm okay with what I've done.  

And yes, I would like a gold medal.