As a child, I wanted to be something great. I remember watching the 1976 Winter Olympics held in Innsbruck, Austria and feeling wonderment for a young American named Dorothy Hamill. I did not want to miss a second of her performance. She was pure grace and pure elegance on ice. I watched and dreamed of one day filling her skates– collecting roses strewn on the ice and waving to adoring fans. That very same year, Nadia Comaneci flew to greatness in the Summer Olympics in Montreal. Her lissome body made each rotation, each flip around the uneven bars something magical. For the second time in a year, I dreamed of one day being something of greatness.
The problem for six-year-old Cheryl, however, was that I did not partake in either of these sports. My parents were so busy starting their own company that they did not have enough free-time in the evenings to take me to extra-curricular activities. Because of a lack of resources, my dreams could never be fulfilled. I literally dreamed the impossible.
Not everyone dreams the impossible, however. Carson dreams of someday being a dancer. She has been taking lessons since four, and she now takes classes five days a week. About five years ago, we found her Olympics: a summer program called So You Think You Can Dance. If you haven’t seen it, it is much like an American Idol for the dance world. Young dancers try out, the judges narrow down to a top twenty, and then America and the judges narrow down until they crown one dancer the winner. Each summer since we discovered it, we curl up together on the couch and watch dancers achieve greatness.
Through the years, we fell in love with all-stars like Twitch, Melanie, and Neil. We watched each season not just because the dancers were great, we watched these dancers perform because they moved us. To be honest, I often found myself covered in goosebumps because the choreography, the music, and the refined skill of the dancers united in such a way that I was physically moved by their art.
Last night, I wanted for Carson to see that hard work and passion do turn dreams into reality. I surprised her with tickets to the ninth season tour of So You Think You Can Dance! Together, we went Downtown to the theater district and we enjoyed an amazing show. Every time I caught a glimpse of her face, she was smiling. We were twenty rows away from them, and these demigods gave her reason to cheer. She was mesmerized by their greatness (as was I, to be honest). When the show ended, she was slightly disappointed: two hours felt like one; the anticipation of the show since I told her I bought the tickets had suddenly disappeared. She walked out of the theater introspectively thinking about her own talents, her own dedication, and her own spirit.
“You think I can ever be that good?” she asked me. Why children ever ask their own mothers of their greatness is beyond me.
“Of course I do! If you work hard, commit yourself, and push for greatness, you will achieve it.”
She had a kind of dreamy look in her eyes. I can only imagine that she was seeing herself on stage somewhere.
“I hope so. I hope I get to make someone feel the way I feel right now.”
And so, unlike my longing for figure skating and gymnastics, this twelve-year-old dreamer not only has the chance, but she has the spirit to succeed.