Friday, August 9, 2013

Why do we do this?

Summer breeds contemplation, my friends. Tighten those laces and put your gloves on.

I took some time off the ice this summer. I didn't touch ice for the entire month of June; no regrets. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder and I needed some time away from the world of skating.  I started back up in July preparing myself for DREAM camps, training festival and my official season  in August. During that time off, and as I prepared for training festival, I contemplated my time spent as a skater, my role as a Team USA athlete and my identity as a DREAM Team member.

I won't lie to you, often it all seems pretty trivial. On the radio yesterday I heard about dozens of people in the Middle East who lost their lives for daring to attend funerals. I couldn't get myself out of bed two hours early to go to the rink do something I purportedly love? And has it ever occurred to you what you could get done with the person-hours and money you have spent over the years on skating? Shoot. But the reality is that if I didn't skate, I likely would have spent much of that time on my second favorite sport, competitive sleeping. This train of thought leaves me a little melancholy.

These thoughts and arguments are often directed at the time and resources we put into professional sports and pricey art. When in a certain state of mind, they sound valid, like they did to me yesterday morning. To a certain degree they are valid. Are we as a society decadent? Yes. Is that a reason to quit dancing and skating? I'm not convinced and here's why:
Summer trip to Washington D.C.
I am a proud Team USA athlete. I love to represent my country, but there are a multitude of ways to do that, many arguably more useful than on a synchronized skating team. However, this is what I choose to do. I am able to proudly demonstrate my love of country through skating,  because I am able represent myself through skating. When I do it under the name of my team and my country instead of my own, it means that much more. Talking to my teammates and DREAMmates I realize that most of us feel this, though we recognize and express it differently.

In my last few years studying dance at an undergraduate level, an important lesson that I've learned is that “all people are dancers and everyone dances more than one dance”. Skating is an easy incarnation of this principle. Art, sports, you name it, these things are not a waste of our time, but instead define our time. Pushing ourselves in these undertakings are expressions of our human spirit. They test our will and challenge our capacity for greatness. So, do we get a little petty at skating, are our problems rather trivial? Sure. But that by no means makes skating unimportant or wasteful.  Skating is one of the many dances I will dance in my life and I'm lucky to have it.  

I took a little break this summer and I'm excited to join back up with my team in Los Angeles for my final year as a Team USA competitor and a member of California Gold senior. I won't lose sight of the problems of the world, they keep my life in perspective. But nor will I lose sight of why I take a break from my second favorite sport of sleeping for my first favorite sport of skating in the early hours of the morning. I have to dance my dance. 


Goofing off with DREAMmates in Minnesota

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