Comfort zones are hard to leave. I’m not much of a long distance driver. But when my two sons qualified for the World Irish Dance Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina this year, the only way for myself and my boys to get there was if I got in the driver’s seat. So I did just that.
I drove from Ontario to New York to Pennsylvania to West Virginia to Virginia to North Carolina for the international “Olympics of Irish Dance.” Then from Greensboro to Virginia to Washington D.C. for a fountain of knowledge adventure. Then from Washington to Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and home.
After slipping my boots off my tired feet once home, I realized that anything is possible if you believe.
Both boys won the game of grit at the competition. My 16-year-old earned his personal best coming 23rd and my 13-year-old danced his heart out and left it all on the stage after having five weeks off with a broken foot prior to the big day. Their team also came 9th. The perseverance and resilience that comes from countless hours of practice and preparation before stepping onto that stage in front of seven international judges to dance for a handful of minutes is invaluable.
In Washington D.C. we were surprised by the lush greenery and the mountains of history. The idea that some people came together and wrote down a list of rules for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom and democracy. The beauty of the monuments. The details and the symbolism. The 58 columns at the WWII Memorial representing the 50 states and 8 territories. Statues of soldiers from countless countries who fought and died in the Korean War to liberate South Korea. How the Vietnam Memorial Wall looks like a wound from the air and is meant to be read from the middle and around the outside and back to “close the wound.” That the Jefferson Memorial can be seen from the south side of the White House because FDR trimmed the trees to get that inspiring view, and JFK’s eternal resting place at Arlington can be seen from behind the Lincoln Memorial. That the Martin Luther King Memorial shows a stone of hope coming out of a mountain of despair and how MLK’s legs are not completely carved into the stone as the fight for civil rights continues and we are the legs to carry it on.
Inspiration comes from many places. I am inspired by my children who are able to share their talent on a world stage and dance like no one is watching. I am inspired by people who believed in democracy and came together to make it happen. And I am inspired by those brave souls who fought and died to remind us that freedom is not free.
The longer I spend on this journey, the more I realize that the destination is what happens along the way. And leaving comfort zones is the only way to see what needs to be seen. It’s the only way to go and the only way to grow.
Photo credit: Jack Kukolic