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Monday, August 20, 2012
It was probably a good thing that I left my Superman x-ray vision at home. I’d travelled to Battleground to spend the weekend with my sister Deb and her husband Walt and to attend their first public performance since beginning to take West African drum lessons back in March. On the outside, Deb looked as calm as a country lake at sunrise. Not a ripple visible. Only the reflection of the rising sun and peaceful clouds drifting overhead. But outward appearances are often deceiving.
I learned a little bit more about my older sister this past weekend. Over the past five years the two of us have come closer than we had ever been before. We’ve had countless hours of talking about our lives and our past. What we want for our futures. We’ve talked about fears and passions. And through all of that, Deb has shared that the fearless, bold, perfectionist, hyper-confident person that I had always pictured her as was not entirely accurate. (Well, the perfectionist part was spot-on.)
In actuality, Deb had the same type of butterflies that I remember experiencing every time I stepped on the football field to compete in high school or graduation day when the entire community seemed to be packed into our gymnasium at the school where I was the principal. I think for all of us, butterflies are a way of life…but sometimes we think only in “our” life. For some reason we tend to think that other people are more confident than we are and don’t suffer from those same insecurities.
When I think about the Deb of my childhood, I’m sure that if she would have had any reservations at all on her performance being anything but perfect, she would have skipped dinner, dominos, breakfast and lunch and spent that time out in the garage (or some other secluded place) and would have been practicing over and over. But she didn’t. (By the way, it sounded perfect to me as I sat and watched the performance so maybe she snuck out in the middle of the night when no one might have heard her).
As I sat and watched the rehearsal and then again the actual performance, what I saw in my sister was joy, not nervousness. There were moments of a furled brow as she concentrated on the rhythm of the “song” they were performing. But mostly, there was a smile and a radiance that only comes when someone is doing something they love. Even as she stepped forward to perform her two solos, the audience was greeted with a smile and serene composure.
Deb has done a lot of things over the past several years that I am extremely proud of her for. Taking a leave of absence to focus on her writing. Facing some of the demons of her past to find healing where she probably felt healing could never come. And last weekend, being brave enough to invite her brothers to watch her perform on her drum for the first time. Maybe I should give her my superman cape.