I recently watched a documentary called First Position. It follows six dancers (boys and girls), ages 10-17, preparing to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix, one of the world's most prestigious ballet competitions. Their stories are extremely varied and so completely different from my life.
I'm not a dancer. I'm not graceful. I can't even do zumba without embarrassing myself. But I know beauty when I see it. Dance is beautiful. Our bodies are amazing (heh, some more than others).
I watched these kids, awed by their discipline, amazed by the sacrifices of their families, impressed by their maturity, and yet I felt sorry for them, too. Being "the best" at anything is hard. These kids have given up much to be where they are. Their childhoods aren't normal, they're focused, driven, disciplined.
After this show I've thought a lot about expectations and my kids. On one hand I'd say that kids are capable of so much more than we expect from them, and on the other, I wonder if expecting that much is even the right thing to do (I should probably read that Tiger Mother book)? Balance is tricky. Each kid is different.
Some people are meant to lead extraordinary lives. Most of us are simply ordinary. I get caught in a trap every so often when I'm knee-deep in monotony, when all I seem to do is change diapers, vacuum the floor, make dinner, help with homework. I read about people who are adopting kids from Africa or being published or fighting for morality at the UN, and suddenly my bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios looks somehow not good enough.
Then I discover a talk like THIS and I'm filled with hope again. "Those things which we call extraordinary, remarkable, or unusual may make history, but they do not make real life. After all, to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all mankind, is the truest greatness." Pass the Cheerios...
This much I know, we all have a purpose. No one is here simply to exist. The hard part is figuring out which road to take, which road is best for us. As for me, I'll leave ballet to the experts...who may or may not be 10 years-old.