In the last 10 years I have spent hours upon hours arguing with an economist (yes, I know, waste of time, but…) regarding the importance of economics to the over all policies of the world governments. He argued that economics lay at the heart of everything. I argued that power and control are the primary motivation of policy. To date, I am not sure who had the stronger argument but I have come to the conclusion that the two are, to some extent, interrelated. I have also decided that the topic is not isolated to governments, leadership, and world policies. It is one that plays into every day as well. Money and control. Who has it and who doesn’t. And how much does it really matter anyway?
I recently found myself engaged in a discussion about ballet. Ballet seems to play into every aspect of my life these days, this time it was the money involved with a student of ballet. From September through June and part of the summer, ballet is a fact of life. There are 6 performances a year, costumes, tickets, and rehearsals associated… and the headache of ballet related politics. None of it comes without a price.
Politics, money, power, and control... but it isn’t at the world actor level, it is just a tiny ballet school. A tiny but very serious ballet school which goes a long way to prove that size truly doesn’t matter.
One of the things I loved about my recent ventures into the running community was the lack of focus on politics and economics. Refreshing beyond belief. To think that the hard work and dedication of each is rewarded by better times and cheering crowds not to mention personal achievement and satisfaction.
Ballet – well, it is a different world entirely. Parents struggle with the politics involved. We are hard working people who don’t understand the difficulties and the challenges involved with dance and art and organizing a group of young dancers to do their part and get off stage. What we do notice is that one class might have 2 minutes on stage while another only has 30 seconds. We notice that we pay the same amount, rehearse the same amount of time, and must buy the same amount of tickets. We notice that the class might not be moving as quickly as it could because of this or that child. We wonder, aloud, why the class isn’t split or this or that child isn’t held back in the next season.
We consider the economic issues involved. We focus on money as that is something we can all understand with ease. It is money and politics… and in the case of ballet, it is often the money that comes out as being the primary factor.
What we don’t talk about is that our dancers might actually benefit from the slower pace created by the dancers who aren’t getting it as quickly. We don’t stop to consider that every parent plays their part this year so that our dancers can take their turn in the spotlight in the future. We definitely don’t consider that maybe, just maybe, those children not getting it as quickly are teaching our children to have patience or allowing them to continually perfect their moves for the time when they can advance. Heaven forbid, we have to consider that maybe it is our dancer that is challenged by this or that move; it might be our dancer that is, at any given time, slowing the class.
No, these aren’t to be considered. I mean, really, this is, after all, Northern Virginia. Please…
Admittedly, I have been one of these parents. Yes, I know, it might be difficult to imagine, but I have walked in those shoes. Hey, I have not only walked in those shoes but I have worn through the soles of those shoes. I have felt the frustration, considered the politics and the economics, and then wondered about the logic involved. I have watched my 8 year old march in a circle for 45 seconds while the class below hers had a few parts each of a few minutes. I have bought my fair share of tickets for a 45 second part.
I have been one of those Northern Virginia parents.
Then I realized that maybe it is politics and economics, but maybe it isn’t.
Even if it is politics and economics, why invest the time and energy in focusing on the things I can’t change (given my daughter wants to stay and this school and she loves ballet) and focus on the opportunities my daughter has in this program.
The Diva has class clown tendencies. Her classroom teacher would find that very difficult to believe given how seriously she takes her school work, but in ballet… well, ballet is a different story. The kid that is easily distracted and ready to move on… that’s my kid. So, she is learning how to control her energy and patiently wait for others to catch up, and for the class to move on. She is learning not to play but to work harder and perfect her moves. She is, I hope, learning that we all learn at different paces – that is the way life works!
In this part of Northern Virginia we like to separate people into groups. We like the top percentage of kids to be removed from the lower percentage of kids; we want to move the high performers to their special teams and groups; and we want to keep kids and adults upwardly mobile. We want to keep everyone moving and challenged without considering that they might be missing something in the process.
Kids, like adults, need to learn to work in diverse environments with people of varying talent, intellect, and backgrounds. The world is a very small place, if kids don’t learn how to do this as kids… well, it is that much more difficult as adults.
My uncle never learned. He outlined the chemical components of a bug spray at the dinner table one evening while we sat listening in stunned silence. It didn’t take long for the banter to start again once he finished but the incident stays with me to date.
It is nice to be challenged. I know that I love engaging in conversations that allow me to exercise my mind just as I enjoy a project that pushes the limits of my abilities, but I also enjoy the conversations that are slower and more relaxed. I enjoy the diversity that comes from varying talents and personalities. How boring would life be if everyone was the same – and if we were always competing to be better than everyone else?
This post didn’t go where you thought it would go, did it?
We hold politics and economics responsible for a lot – associating them with control at all levels of societies. But what about communication, leadership, patience, focus, and flexibility? These are all characteristics that are learned through working with people in diverse environments. These are skills that our kids learn as they sit waiting for the dancer at the next bar to figure it out or while they watch another class dance a few more minutes on stage. After all, life isn’t about money or control or politics. It Isn’t about being right while everyone else is wrong or about living in glass houses or about keeping up with the family down the street. It is about being the best person we can be, giving ourselves to others, and opening our minds and our hearts to the magic of the world in which we live.
It is honestly about taking the time to truly smell the coffee or the roses and savoring every minute!