Wednesday, March 7, 2012

That Feeling

by Elizabeth

It happened for my daughter this weekend. Her first year competing in "Destination Imagination," and Saturday was the big day. She'd been attending twice weekly meetings with her team of seven ("Pink Unicorn Galaxy") since the fall, and it came down to a one day competition. That evening, hundreds of excited kids and parents congregated in a junior high school auditorium to hear who had placed, who had won, and who was going to State. For our category, as they rattled off fifth place, fourth, etc., it came down to will we walk away with nothing, or with the trophy? And then they said it, and our kids were headed to Corpus Christi.

I love that feeling--anticipation and excitement culminating in victory. It's maybe one of the best rewards of being human. There is an elation tied to it that is unlike any other feeling, and it's a high that is difficult to describe and impossible to overvalue. None of us are exempt from it, I think, no one is too cool--not Olivia Spencer, not Prince William, and not my daughter. And certainly not me. (Not that anyone would want to miss out on it!)

In college, I competed in Speech and Debate, and many weekends were spent in campus classrooms delivering my ten-minute speeches and listening to others give theirs, waiting for "postings" of quarter- and semi- and finally simply finalists, and then, in a college auditorium, the awards. The feeling when you won. That feeling.

There are a lot of reasons we write, and I guess everyone has their own mishmash recipe--because they cannot not write, because they have a story they want to tell, because they love the process, because words scream at them to be applied to paper. For me, the idea of feeling that feeling again is on the list.

I think the first time I remember feeling it was in the fourth grade. It was 1976, and Loma Vista Elementary was putting on a Bicentennial Program, a play called "Let George Do It," and the three upper grades would all be involved. Mostly, we would be chorus. The tallest boy in sixth grade got to be George Washington, and there were also four other speaking parts, the narrators. Those would be assigned by audition, and after school that day the Multi-Purpose Room (really, that's what we called it, very 70's) was packed with sixth graders, a few bold fifth graders, and a lone fourth grader. Me. "A fourth grader can't be a narrator!" was scoffed in my direction more than once, but I squared my shoulders and said I had as much right to try out as anyone. And when the roles were awarded the next day, sure enough, there were three sixth graders who got the roles. And me. And there it was: that feeling.

I felt it again over the years, at various award ceremonies, certainly when my team won Nationals in Reader's Theater, little zings of it over the years through work and life. But the really big doses of it are usually reserved for the times you've worked hard and bested everyone else.

I have to admit, that makes the list of why I write. That feeling is one of the best in life, and for most of us, I think, the opportunities to feel it are fewer in adult life than when we are in school. And while I am very happy that I will never have to write another term paper unless I decide to go for a master's degree someday (and I might), I do miss that wonderful rush of adrenaline that follows the announcement of my name. But writing? There is a chance for that feeling, over and over again. I've gotten little zips of it when querying and requests for fulls came, and when I've won notice in online contests for this and that. But the full-blown, over-the-top, you have won! feeling--well, it's out there. Getting an agent, selling a book, and who knows? There are awards out there, too, and one day it could be my name is announced for one of them. And there it will be: that feeling.

Today, I'm reveling in my daughter's victory, even as I scramble to make hotel arrangements and gird myself for more practices and whatever duties our team manager assigns us to help the kids get ready to strut their stuff in a little over a month. She is like a helium balloon this week, and it's lucky they were asked to wear their medals to school on Monday, because it might have been the only thing that kept her her on the ground. I love that she gets to enjoy that feeling, and I hope it lasts in some measure all month long. Because it's a great feeling, and watching her experience it makes me hungry to feel it again for myself. Which means I keep on writing, working toward that unique feeling that makes all the effort worth it.

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