Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Tragedy of First Position

Here is a video entitled “The Tragedy of First Position.”  It is of a little girl in her ballet class trying so hard to get her feet into first position.  She just can’t seem to do it:  click here to see the video

I feel like this a lot – both figuratively and literally.  The little girl is trying really hard. And the teacher is so kind.  She says, “It’s okay if your shoes aren’t doing it” and “Ohhhh, it’s tricky!”

Sometimes our shoes just don’t seem to take us where we want to go.  We have to learn how to navigate our lives.  We have to somehow accept where we are now and work from there.

In life, I think all of us take the role of both the teacher and the little girl.  There are times we need someone to make us feel better and there are times we need to make others feel better.  Maybe our comforting words are not strictly the truth, but it’s worth a little white lie if it helps someone retain her dignity.  When we see someone struggling, we understand that anyone can be confused, anyone can make a mistake, anyone can just not understand.  

I feel like the little girl when I am trying to execute a dance step I am not familiar with.  I just can’t get my body to go where I want it to.  I watch other people who can do it and will see if I can’t imitate that person’s body in space.  I try to forget about myself and think I am doing exactly what the teacher is doing.  Then when I look in the mirror – not even close.  For those few moments, anyway, I was soaring.  I try to not be disappointed, but just tell myself I’ll practice and I’ll get there.  Plus, the journey is more than half the fun.

Sometimes when I feel lost about how to handle a situation, I look around like that little girl to pick up some clues and see how others are executing any metaphorical first position.  In the video she keeps trying so earnestly to get it right, but she doesn’t seem discouraged or upset. She just wants to get it.  I love that.  Even though the girl is struggling, she has a sense of self-acceptance.

I also hope that I can be as nice as the little girl's teacher -- whether I'm with friends, clients, family, or strangers -- giving words of encouragement and understanding.  It's so important to do that for myself, too, remembering that even as I try to figure things out -- even when I feel utterly at sea -- I can stay afloat by accepting myself just as I am.

It's so important to remind ourselves and others that it’s okay if "getting it" takes some time.

As the teacher, be kind.  As the child, be kind to yourself.  And enjoy the journey.

Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks

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