Monday, April 16, 2012

His grace was my path forward

There is a concrete path leading to the basketball court, at the park we frequent.  It's an old  path-- probably paved decades ago.  It is hard and well worn.  But substantial cement slabs weren't Sadia's preferred road.

She wanted instead to make her way to the court across the soft grass.  Freshly cut blades glittered the soles of her shoes, as she raced through the delicate field.  There's no paved way through the grass; she blazed her own trail.
Source: Corbis Images
When I was her age, I ran to basketball .  I clung to it.  I'd wake up early in the morning to practice on a makeshift hoop in my back yard.  I lived for the sound of the ball crashing through the net and wanted the arch on my shot to match my dad's.  I made certain to follow-through with my arm extended in the air, just like his.  Basketball was his passion and it wasn't long before it became mine, as well.

I felt a real connection to my dad through basketball.  He provided a soft place for me to land as I learned the game at such a tender age.  He absorbed my frustration when it took what seemed an eternity to make 10 shots in a row before retiring for the night.  He knew when to push me on the court, and when to pull back, sit quietly along side me, and listen as I ranted and cried.  He cushioned my falls, and made the court a place I loved and felt loved.

I've oft wondered what my dad felt the moment I picked up his sport.  He probably felt the way I did as I watched Sadia play today.

She made her way awkwardly to the free throw line the way she always does-- with reckless abandon.  She picked up the ball and dribbled rudimentarily towards the rim.  Typically, the ball careens off of the backboard or side post.  But not today.  Today, it sailed through the net.  Suddenly, that old familiar sound rang in my ear again, SWISH!  Only this time Sadia produced it as her arm extended into the air like mine had so many times before.  Her face beamed with pride.

I knew that look.  She was hooked.

I looked on from the grass and admired her tenacity.  She landed 9 more shots after her first -- a chip off the old block.  Some time passed and the sun began to set.  Dusk beckoned, but her 10th-made shot beckoned louder.  Until then, Sadia refused to leave the court.  When the final shot hit the bottom of the net, I bubbled over with pride-- careful to temper my excitement with caution.

I am challenged daily to keep my own ascriptions at bay when it comes to my child's life decisions.  Basketball is my first love, and not necessarily hers.  Her relative success on the court today doesn't confirm a shared dream to play basketball.  At this point in her life, when it comes to sports she's still trying to find her way.

I would love it if one day Sadia chose to pursue basketball.  Exhilaration would fill my depths if one day she decided to sign up for the local NJB team.  It would give me immeasurable joy to see her take the journey that I once started years ago.  Ultimately though, the decision is hers.

I can't live vicariously through Sadia, and it would be easy to try and relive a bygone era through her simple explorations.   Basketball was my path and I was grateful for it.  Where my path was long, windy, and worn, hers seems so small, graceful, and smooth.

When Sadia barreled off the court tonight, she collapsed next to me on the grass letting her body go limp across my lap.  She glared up towards the sky, and I embraced her through a realization that she must pave her own way in life.   Will she grow to love basketball as I have?  Only time will tell.  But this thought occurred to me:

Sometimes we see a path leading towards our desires and we take it even though we don't know the journey that lies ahead.

My dad got me started down my journey of athletic aspiration.  His gentleness helped assuage my fears and insecurities along the way.   His grace was my path forward.


Kristen Howerton said...

Dionne, you are an amazing writer and thinker. I love this post. I'm often pondering the same thing about my kids, and their interest in the things I loved as a child.

Dionne Sincire said...

Thank you for the comment, Kristen. We struggle with this issue on both ends, because Teddy has a passion for basketball too!


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