Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 86: Old School Faces

For a number of years I coached a great many kids in gymnastics. Actual sport aside, I also like to think that I imparted so many other odd lessons, though don't ask me what.

It was such a wonderful time, keeping me sane in a time I had little to feel good about. There were so many times when I wasn't in the mood to go on, but I enjoyed going to work because I had an effect on the children. I had the power to make their days better. Beyond gymnastics, I could really give them an example of positivity that I myself didn't necessarily feel inside myself.

Separating myself from the job - the kids - was part of my initial falling into a darker place. Thinking the Army would do me a great deal of good, while it did long-term, it also took me away from one of the few things I really enjoyed with a passion.

Not to knock on friends I had at the time. Many of you were just as important to me as the children at the gym, but in so many cases, my mind wandered not to friends as a depressant but to the lack of other things. Lack of direction in life. Lack of motivation. Family - meaning friends as much as blood - will always be there. Even if the relationships change, you can always look to good friends for an ear to speak to, or a joke to help pull you out of a funk.

Those friends can't give you confidence, however, and that's where the gym-kids come in. Teaching them was the only thing at which I felt I was truly good.

Fast forward to now...

Once in a while, I'll talk to a kid and it warms my heart to know that I've given them experiences of which they're super fond. Something that they can look back on and smile. One laughs and shares that she never uses the word "good" or "fine" in response to the question "How are you," because those responses are only four letters and boring; something I would give them hell for because I knew my kids were smart enough to think of more descriptive words. More than a few tell me they think of me whenever they stretch or workout and have to work through the pain. They just imagine me walking around them while they were in their splits, saying antagonizingly, " your friend. It helps keep you aliiiive. Lets you that you are still awake."

Yes, I totally pulled it from G.I. Jane, but I adopted a Major Payne voice for comedic purposes.

The girl in the pic is Sidnee (said like the place in Australia), a former gymnast of mine I met last night after more than a decade. She was probably 10 the last time I saw this girl, and it was such an awesome thing recognizing her. Her story was that one of her stronger memories was doing pullovers on my arm (she was and still is quite a tiny body).

Small world, eh?

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