This I Believe

Emily - Durham, North Carolina
Entered on October 1, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

The Elasticity of Life

I believe that a person is like elastic. One’s life can only stretch as far as one allows.

As a very young child, I watched the older dancers through the large glass windows in the lobby. I dreamed of one day becoming one of those dancers. I still remember the dancers appearing and disappearing from view, dancing like sprites across the floor. I envisioned myself dancing lighter than air. The next year I began dancing at the Raleigh School of Ballet. I remember one occasion at a try-out that was particularly enriching. I had arrived at the Ballet School with one of my closest friends, Sarah. During the car ride she’d said, “They have a part as Miniature Alice in Alice in Wonderland. I think you could be her!” I laughed, quickly forgetting what she’d said. About an hour later we were in the centre doing combinations. My age group did a few simple steps and rolled on the floor as hedgehogs. After I’d danced with my age group, they resorted the groups, and I did bourrées with Sarah’s group. I began to get concerned as the instructors whispered to themselves, regrouping the assemblage. For hours it seemed, we sat by the barre waiting, as their pens flew across the paper, scratching out names and writing notes in the margins. Finally they passed everyone crisp, white sheets with their character’s name on them. As I got mine, I stared in disbelief. Scrawled across the paper were the words “Miniature Alice.” Several months later, I could hear the sound of the red curtains rustling open. The frenzy of excitement and the beautiful combination of steps flowing across the stage is all I remember. A few years later, I realized that the young girl looking through the window at the dancers had changed. I needed to pursue other things, stretching beyond dance.

I quit dancing and started cross-country. As the season continued, I enhanced friendships, the bonds of which became tighter than ever before. Perhaps it was the change, or running up-hill with splitting sides. Or, perhaps it was my life stretching past a boundary I’d never thought of passing. Whatever the reason, I felt that my place on the team was important. I became something bigger than myself. I ran, not by myself, but as a team. No red curtains rose on the day of my first match, nor on the second, third, or last. The shot of the gun was the starting signal, and running past the orange cones was the finish line.

My elastic hasn’t been stretched to it’s full potential. I want to continue stretching through life. I’ve found that elasticity isn’t a barrier; it’s merely a finish line that I can never reach. I know, as soon as I reach one finish line, another one will be on the horizon, but I look forward to it. For a person’s life is like elastic, stretching, reaching for it’s full potential. This I believe.