Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Joannie Rochette: A Personal Best

I write this through tears, having just watched the heart-breakingly stunning skating performance by Joannie Rochette, who tragically and suddenly lost her mother two days ago. To watch her move across the ice, with her grief held so tightly against her heart and to share it with her country, the audience, her father sitting in the stands, makes me understand how extraordinary the human spirit is.

Rabbi Akiva, who I studied about this evening, left a legacy: our present circumstances might be negative, might be more than we think we can take, and for many of us they have been and continue to be, but the purpose of the circumstance is something else. An initiation, a part of an outcome that is larger than we might understand as it is unfolding.

How can I say that in the face of a young woman who just lost her mother, two days before the biggest moment of her life and one her mother no doubt supported and worked to help her achieve? How can I say this six weeks after the devastation of the earthquake in Haiti? Because I've heard the stories of a father coming forward to pick up a broom and sweep a hospital floor because his children had been spared by the death of his mother-in-law, whose body created enough space for them to breathe. Because I've heard the story of a young law student who appeared at the only hospital to serve as the translator for families dealing with the injuries and deaths of their loved ones. Because my father taught me that no matter how bad things are, no matter how much loss you suffer, being alive and being able to feel the grief is the way through and the way to survive.

Because I know it.

It's been a challenging time for me and for so many people I know. I've felt the deep and seemingly eternal sadness of losing my beloved dad, a job and then the loss of whatever material or professional security I might have still felt.

As Ms. Rochette awaited her scores, she touched her chest and spoke in French to her mother, the words, Maman, Maman, being offered to the sky. Her score was announced - her personal best.

Tonight I received two lessons. The first came from the historical perspective of a great Jewish and world wisdom sage, who led with dedication, belief and optimism. The second from a young woman on a thin pair of blades, wrapped her grief in love and skated with grace and an open heart. Both of these, one ancient and one so much in this world, reminded me - on a day of being pulled in many directions and questioning what this time in my life is all about - to take a deep breath and trust.

Tonight I learned that every day can be my personal best, if I remember that best is not really about getting what I want, but about learning what I need.

This time in my life is my personal best.


Maggie said...

Oh thank you so very much Lisa. This entry moved me so much... gave me the guts to get out there again today...

The Mulligan Family said...

Beautifully put, Lisa. You put all of my feelings, about watching her skate, into words.

Excellent advice that your father gave you as well.