Getting Back Up


I was watching a kid perform a routine of tricks on a skateboard. The kid was about six and the skateboard was nearly as big as he was but that wasn’t going to stop him from showing off his sweet moves. This was his chance to show the world what he could do on stage on front of a live audience with a celebrity host, being talked for a national television program.

No pressure.

He took a tumble early on in the routine, but sprang back to his feet and went right on to the next trick. Then he took another tumble. And another. And another. We, the audience, cheered either way- anxious to support him even if he fell. It was like watching a bad dream: seeing someone fall over and over in front of a huge audience in the moment when they are most anxious to shine. The cheers and applause grew strained: we so desperately wanted to see him succeed that cheering at his falls seemed tone deaf and cruel, and yet we didn’t have any other way to communicate with him that we were on his side.

That kid always climbed back up and gamely tried again: if he was frustrated it wasn’t apparent to the the audience. When the act was over the host took him aside for a pep talk while the grips reset the stage. They elected to shoot a second take off the routine. Surely, we all thought, he will stick it this time.

Again he fell. Again he got back up.

Again he fell. Again he got back up.

Again he fell.

He got back up every damn time and just kept trying. When he finally did stick the landing on a final trick the reaction was explosive and genuine: no one needed to prompt us to give him a standing, screaming ovation, everybody was on their feet.

That’s a kid from whom I could learn a thing or two. There’s the obvious lesson of: “if you fall down, get up and try again”. There’s the lesson of: “the audience wants to see you succeed”. There’s the lesson of: “when you fail first, success is much stronger and more genuine”. Etc. That kid had talent with his skateboard, sure, but the real talent that we got to see was even more rare: perseverance.

If only I could be more like this kid.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on October 28, 2015.

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