Michelle-ing This Shit
Michelle Kwan changed my life; my way of thinking.
I learned so many important lessons within the walls of an ice rink. I learned about hard work, friendship, and sacrifice. I learned that passion can exist, even when talent does not. You need a mix of passion, talent, and stubbornness if you hope to succeed - in skating, and otherwise. I had something close to that mix at one time, but I ran out of stubbornness and passion. On occasion I feel pings of regret, and the distant wonderings of “what-if”?
Obviously as a kid, as a skater, I idolized Michelle. I spent my summers watching her practice at her home rink in Lake Arrowhead, California. I took lessons from her coaches. As I improved, I was fortunate to skate the same sessions (on the same ice) with her a few times ... A distracting, unnerving, honor! Naturally, she shaped the kind of skater I achieved to be. But it was more than that - Still now, after a departure from skating - I aspire to be a Michelle.
Michelle Kwan was the best skater of my era. It could be argued that the bar she set has still not been reached. (And for the record, I would argue that.) Michelle was a total package - a perfect blend of technique, of style, and mostly - of consistency. She improved every year she competed - setting the bar higher and higher, year after year. But if you broke her elements out one by one - she was a master of nothing and simultaneously a master of all. Maybe she wasn’t the most technical jumper or spinner. Maybe she wasn’t the fastest. Maybe she wasn’t the strongest. Maybe others were more graceful, flexible, or creative. (Okay, but who? Amiright?!) You might find a stronger loop or lutz, a faster spin - a better spiral, faster speed, or more complicated footwork ... But there was nobody who managed to combine it all - Not the way that she did.
I apply this “Michelle Logic” to my daily life. For example, in the world of mothering there are a gajillion different styles. There’s the car seat safety Mom - Calling out twisted straps and misplaced chest bars on Facebook. The vegan and/or organic Moms, who will make your dining choices feel ... disgusting. The stylish Moms who make you wonder how they balance motherhood and outfits on fleek. (Seriously, how?!) The fitness Moms who inspire you, with a hint of hatred. (Cellulite free = I’m jealous.) The die-hard home birthers, and the die-hard hospital birthers. There are screen-free Moms, and anti-vax Moms, there are Moms that cultivate prodigies and talent from their littles ... Moms who drink all the wine, Moms who helicopter, Moms who free-range ... There are all the kinds of Moms. I am none of these Moms ... and I am all of these Moms. I am trying to Michelle this shit and be the best I can be, consistently, with my own flair. I pay attention to the car seat, I’m a little crunchy and a little junky, I hover and also offer space, I put on makeup and don’t brush my hair - I’m a jack-of-all-trades and Michelle-of-all-Moms. The best I can be, without necessarily being the best at any singular element.
When I think about art, poetry, writing, mothering, wifing, lifing - I think of all the magnificent talent and competition I have. I wonder why on Earth I might ever stand out - or how I could ever be “the best”. Michelle Kwan, greatest skater to ever live, never won gold at the Olympics. I might argue (even to this day) she deserved the gold - but there is a lesson there as well. If even the greatest can fall short when it comes down to opinion (aka, how skating is scored) ... Well, then we’re all screwed. We can’t be the best, and even when we are - we aren’t to everybody. All I can hope for, is to be my best. I’ll be Michelle-ing this shit, to the best of my ability, forever. (For -Evvvv- Er!)