This I believe:
I believe in clapping. I was reminded of this after encountering a past co-worker. We had taught at an early childhood development center where clapping came easily and was encouraged. In fact, a boisterous round of applause brought each class to a close. We shared a laugh at how we kept clapping during our conversation and how we still have to suppress a “clap” at the arrival of the subway train. Why? I clap when I am feeling happy, proud, supportive and appreciative. These are not feelings that I am ashamed of.
Because I know I can look childish. Unless it was a socially acceptable clapping situation, I had become a “silent clapper”, tapping my hands together gently. I looked like someone keeping the beat to a song in my head, instead of someone happy to see an arriving train.
So on a recent trip from New York to the Dominican Republic, when the entire plane burst into applause upon arrival, I happily joined in. I remember clapping that way as child when I traveled with my family. And it felt good! I was appreciative of the pilot’s skill and I was definitely happy to be on vacation.
So I vowed to allow for more clapping in my everyday life. I clap aloud for my yoga instructor, because I am thankful that I feel great after every class. Before, I was afraid to disrupt the calm and quiet of the room. But I felt like clapping, so I did. The rest of the class joined in, and I felt silly that I had been afraid to express myself like that before.
Recently, I went out and clapped for the participants of the NYC marathon. I shouted out any name or number I could catch on a passing shirt, while clapping wildly at their achievements. “Are you a cheerleader?” one silent spectator asked. “No”, I replied. “I just appreciate what they did to get here and what they are doing”. I can’t speak for those marathoners, but I just ran my first marathon and the people who came out to cheer gave me something no thirst-quencher ever could. Their clapping gave me support and energy, and a sense of unity in pursuing a common goal.
There was a reason for all the clapping I did as an early childhood educator. I did it to reinforce self-esteem and to promote courage while taking on new challenges. But mostly, I did it to express joy and excitement. I still believe that clapping best expresses these feelings. If that is perceived as childish, then I don’t want to grow up.
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