I took this photograph at the ice rink at Rockefeller Center in New York so many years ago I can barely remember when. I always go there to watch the skaters when I visit Manhattan and once I even took time to skate myself. While I may not remember what year this was taken, I do remember the man in the center of the photograph. If you look, you can see him with his arms up, extended and open in the type of grand gesture one would usually associate with a competitive ice skater. What you can’t see in this picture is that he appeared to be in his seventies, with slowed movement, and frankly not much more than enough skill to stay on his feet.
While his posture and grand movements initially drew my eye it was the look on his face that made me unable to look away. To say he glowed would barely be adequate to describe the undiluted joy that he seemed to be experiencing. I was captivated in such a way that I have never forgotten the impression he made on me that day. His willingness to be himself with no apparent self-consciousness, moving as if he were completely alone all the while surrounded by an audience of spectators, caused me to make a vow right then. With no one listening but me, I said to myself, ” I want to be like that when I grow old.” Now, years later I think, why wait ?
I’ve been looking at this photo a good bit since scanning the original into my computer a few months ago. For years it had a special place on my refrigerator door, but now here in Cornwall, we have a much smaller refrigerator and it’s covered with cabinetry so there’s no place for it there.
Lately, I found myself wanting to write about my experience at the ice rink that day but I’ve been putting it off waiting for the time to be right. I knew this morning was finally that time when I read Meg Casey’s post for today. If you haven’t been by Meg’s place yet you need to go. She is one off those people who quietly and repeatedly makes a difference. While reading her ” One Word “ post this morning I realized just what I wanted to say about my man above.
With so many of the bloggers I read choosing one word to act as a guide or theme for the year, I thought a great deal about what word I might find useful. I kept being drawn back to this photograph and thinking about it with regard to my word choice. At first I thought perhaps embrace might be a good word for this year, but it felt restrictive somehow…more about holding on to something instead of how I really think this picture makes me feel.
After reading Meg’s post this morning, I came back to ” my skater ” photograph and decided that my word for 2010 would be:
1. to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.
2. to stimulate by assistance, approval, etc.
3. to promote, advance, or foster.
My unknown skater has been a silent inspiration to me since the day I took his photograph. His freedom to express himself without fear of ridicule is an example that I find inspiring and with that inspiration comes a measure of courage and spirit, as well the confidence to live boldly and do it now! Plainly put…I am encouraged by his actions.
In 2010, I will be writing from time to time about people like Meg Casey who is encouraging to others just by sharing her own journey. If you have chosen a word for this year, please link in the comment section so others may find it. You never know who may find encouragement in something you say or do. I’d be willing to bet my skater never knew …