Here & there: Thankful for not always getting what you want

Stock image, St. George News

FEATURE — Thanksgiving is over, but I’m still feeling all those thankful feels. Thankful for siblings I like and parents I respect. Thankful for a mostly healthy body (excepting the sciatica, my bum right shoulder and the new lower back pain). Thankful for friends who go along with my crazy schemes when they should and advise me against them when I shouldn’t.

And I’m thankful for things not always working out how we want.

My childhood home burned to the ground along with more than five hundred other homes in a California wildfire in the 90s. Back before California was burning from top to bottom, devastating community after community.

That same summer, my normally put-together mother tried to assault a shoe salesman on one of our many, many trips to the mall.

In fairness to the salesman, he didn’t know she had lost her home and all her possessions two weeks before. He also didn’t know she’d been to five other stores looking for her favorite walking shoe, the ones that didn’t hurt her feet, only to be shown “other” shoes that didn’t fit the bill.

And in her defense, she didn’t really come that close to hitting him with that hurling shoe. Mostly because she had bad aim.

That was a rough summer – a rough year, really. My mom lost clumps of hair from the stress. My dad worked extra hours to pay the mortgage on the home we’d lost plus the additional living expenses while we settled the insurance claim.

But we came out of that summer, out of the ashes of our home, a stronger, closer family. We were tethered together in new experience of suffering and love. And less tethered by stuff, which in an affluent community isn’t always an easy thing to achieve. Even though it did feel downright amazing to own toothpaste and fresh underwear again after the fire.

Last week my little nuclear family traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, for the 26th Annual FIG World Age Group gymnastics competition. Not just for the competition, but to cheer on our 15-year-old son who was a member of Team USA.

But all didn’t go according to plan. Three weeks before Russia, after a long and hard-fought competition season to earn a spot on the team, my boy nearly broke his foot in a training accident; he landed a triple back flip on the metal cross bar of the double mini trampoline.

His foot was purple and yellow, swollen and couldn’t bear the weight of his body for days.

In the end, while a fracture was ruled out, he couldn’t train for 21 days. But because of the arduous Russian Visa process, his spot would be unfilled if he couldn’t go.

Knowing this, he conditioned vigorously while wearing his medically-prescribed boot, did regular physical therapy sessions, spent hours at the orthopedist, getting MRIs and taking weighted foot x-rays, only to be cleared just in time to leave for Russia.

He was “fit” but not “ready.” And so began a frantic several days of training in Russia.

Competition day arrived, and with it, hope. He’d trained well, regaining some of what he’d lost while injured. And while his foot was still a little swollen, adrenaline could, perhaps, make up the deficit. He’d won the bronze at this same world championships last year.

But that didn’t happen. He struggled. He over-rotated out of his double layout transition skill and couldn’t finish his first pass, and then he missed entirely his end skill on his second pass. In a combined 16 seconds, his hopes for finals were over.

My husband took to Facebook to let our friends and family know and to mentally frame the event for our boy: “We came to Russia to support (our boy) in his world championships gymnastics meet. He struggled. He didn’t earn a medal this year or even qualify for the finals. It’s times like this an athlete might forget how incredible it is to even represent his country at such a high level. But we all know! These experiences are part of the awesome fabric of life … and I believe it is perfectly designed to give us everything we need.”

The fire of my childhood was an experience no one in my family wanted, but it was also an experience that altered us in an important way. Because we let it.

The failed gymnastics championship was not the experience my son wanted, especially after the work and sacrifice and determination, but it still could be an experience that alters him in an important way – if he lets it.

The Rolling Stones may have said it best of all: “No, you can’t always get want you want / you can’t always get what you want / but if you try sometime you find / you get what you need.”

Let us all be thankful for that.

Kat Dayton is a columnist for St. George News, any opinions given are her own and not representative of St. George News.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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