Life Is Like a Box of Skates


Kate Ginley, Staff Writer

Part of growing up means learning from mistakes.

Some people learn from failed school assignments, failed athletic endeavors, failed relationships; others learn from far more dangerous experiences.

On November 28, 2014, I made one of the worst possible mistakes in my life: Ice skating.

As soon as the blades were on my feet, a sense of foreboding came over me. I stared at the ice rink from the safety of non-slip ground. I should have known from my previous failures at roller blading, this was a bad idea.

Finally on the ice, I watched my father skate away, and realized he cared for me about as much as the frozen water under my feet did.

A man I didn’t know laughed as I struggled. He offered this advice: skating is just like walking. I envisioned the old claymation Santa Claus movie where they sing a song about walking. “Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door!

If I could put one foot in front of the other with these lousy skatesI would have dashed out the door five minutes in!

Ice skating is not just like walking.

Luckily, a friend of mine, who was at the ice rink, helped me. Without her, I would have had a lot more wipeouts than I did. It was her friendship and guidance that gave me the courage to go on.

According to my friend, I was trembling.

Even with my friend there to support me, my skates tipped forward, scratching the ice. I lost my footing before collapsing, my hands and face breaking skin as I continued to slide on the cold surface. Though my friend claimed she was there to help me, she broke out in laughter. Best friends forever, right?

Eventually, a worker had to help me because I couldn’t push myself up without falling again.

This happened quite a few times.

My skates were demons.

Other skaters gave me room as I passed, not wanting to be dragged down if I were to slip and instinctively latch on to them.

My dad finally appeared. At first he held my hand, but when he wanted me to try again on my own, I refused to let go. I may not have the Irish luck in my genes but I definitely have a stubborn Scottish trait.

The scene was similar to when my father tried to teach me to ride a bike.  I simply could not bring myself to accept the challenge when he would let go of the bar handles.  I would panic, and jump off the bike.

Nevertheless, I knew I had to try skating again.

So, I awkwardly made my way around the rink once more, sans my father’s steading hand.

And I hated it. As I skated, the hatred began to consume me.

In this attempt however, I didn’t fall.  Making just one successful solo circuit around that oval of frozen death gave me a new confidence.

I realize now that it is trial and error when humans push against the boundary of friendship or love. As children mature into adults, we must accept that some thing requires us to go alone.

The real world is scary in the sense that it is the unknown, uncertain, and dangerous.  But if it weren’t, how would we learn anything? It is our failures that truly teach us what we need to succeed.

Growing up is like learning to ice skate. It looks fun from the sideliness, sure, but once you are out there on the rink, cold and alone, and inexplicably far from the rail, your only option is to take a risk, and then another and another.  Life beats you up.  So does the wet, unforgiving ice.  It takes time, longer than you would like.  But each time we fall, we get up with some measure of new wisdom that eventually allows us to move, glide forward.

Just be sure you are wearing waterproof pants.