On the coast of our little state last week, my daughter and my brother tossed a Frisbee back and forth, over and over. His able hand would toss it in her direction, and her little arms would reach out but just miss catching the yellow disc. Time after time, she scooped it out of the sand and practiced throwing it with more accuracy.
And as time passed, she slowly got the hang of it. She began to catch it sometimes and throw it where she actually intended. She kept going, and she kept getting better.
I'm afraid I might have just quit.
Her gangly legs ran over to my beach chair, her little-girl voice asking, "Mommy, are you watching me?"
Yes, baby, I am.
I'm watching you rehearse your tenacity. I'm watching you swallow your frustration, and I'm watching you succeed in what you once couldn't do. I'm watching you do what I need to do.
Sometimes I want to ask, "Are you watching me?" Sometimes I want to go running over to someone and ask if their eyes see my effort. I want to know that my rehearsing, my practice, my slow-but-steady improvement is noticeable at all.
When she was throwing that Frisbee, though, she didn't do it because she knew I was watching. She didn't practice just to impress me, and my applause wasn't her goal. She just wanted to get better. She just wanted to be able to do what once was impossible.
My daughter teaches me so much.
I need reminders that the audience is not the goal. The performance is not the purpose. The praise is not the priority.
Sometimes, and more often than I'd like to admit, what really matters is the repetitive fail and succeed, drop and pick up, get frustrated and try again. What really matters is the practice behind the scenes, the brushing-the-sand-off and giving it another go. What really matters is what I do, not what those watching see.
Thanks, baby girl, for the reminder.