Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What's Up with Second Place?

I didn't get to watch what happened to Lindsey Jacobellis as she attempted to earn a gold medal in Vancouver during the snowboard cross finals Tuesday night, but I sure heard about it this morning on the news. I would like her to know that my spirit is with her as she - hopefully - ignores the media replays of her gold-medal-miss-mishap in Torino and her off-track-means-no-medal mishap last night. And I'm guessing that there are plenty of others like me who, being well-acquainted with life's second-tier moments, feel our inner demons commiserating with hers.

I would assume that Jacobellis has been working toward her goal of gold-medal redemption for the better part of the past four years. And now what? Now she has to integrate what actually happened with whatever she chooses to do next.

We've all been there at some point, haven't we. And we all know how difficult those regrouping days can be. Actually, I think "difficult" might be too inadequate a word for the type of grief and soul searching she must experience before she feels ready to move forward again.

Surely, as a winner of many titles and medals - including lots of gold, Jacobellis knows that she is gold medal material - even if it's not Olympic gold. Still, she has to wonder why Olympic gold has eluded her. I know I would if wearing her same ski boots.

Because I have this way of making life all about me, the replaying of Jacobellis' Torino finish this morning reminded me of my own second place finishes in life - three in particular that I experienced before my 18th birthday. Each memory earned gray matter space for a quirky reason: In each instance, a panel of judges almost awarded me the top honor, but then a coin flip or some unknown rationale found me claiming second – not first – place.

I wonder if that's why I stopped looking for opportunities to compete at all – at least where panels of judges are concerned. I also wonder if that has helped me as the parent of a child with disabilities. Perhaps I learned to dismiss assertions that smacked of subjectivity long, long ago.

"You want to believe that something you do or you have or that you believe you are is better than mine? Go ahead. I won't tell you differently."

Well, truth be told, I might try to tell you in a subtle, questioning sort of way, but I won't keep trying for long. What's the point?

Life isn't about winning. Life isn't about judging. Life isn't about being better than somebody else.

Life is about love, as unapologetically corny as that sounds.

Love what you are doing. Love who you are with. Love who you are: an incredible child, created by God for the good of the universe.

I believe that piece of advice is as good as ... no, wait a minute: It is better than - gold.

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