Very recently, a post I wrote last year went viral (viral for our little activity) and received over 10,000 hits in less than 48 hours. That’s a lot for my blog and it isn’t the first time that has happened, but it’s the first time it has happened with a post that was over a year old and a post that I wrote dead tired sitting in the Atlanta airport after an exhausting regional weekend. I didn’t even like the post. It was something to do while waiting for a flight to get the craziness of the weekend out of my head. When I realized that this post was gaining traction by being tagged constantly on Facebook, I immediately went back to reread it to make sure in my post regional exhaustion I didn’t insult anyone or have what I find even worse…egregious grammatical errors. While reading, I realized how cheesy the post was and thought that I really want to write a follow up post that looks at the things in color guard that really matter to me now as I enter into the true middle age of life.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to judge a local show in Tampa. The Tampa Bay area was my home for 23 years, so it brought up feelings of longing as I judged my friends color guards and interacted with contest staff I’ve known for years. It was weird to be treated as a guest in a place where I use to walk my own color guards onto the floor and where I was once a board member. Needless to say, I was feeling nostalgic. Additionally, I taught a couple of home team guards while there, hung out with good friends and did a lot of thinking about the choices I’ve made in the past year. While all of this was happening, a blog post that I barely remember writing went viral and kept popping up on my news feed. Every time someone tagged me in it, I wanted to respond back, “But I’m so much deeper than this.” So this is the post I should have written. These are the fucks that I really don’t give anymore, but have been replaced by fucks that mean so much more and that allow me to follow a path, a more spiritual path if you will. The fucks I gave up that were so important in my youth are replaced by the fucks that I hope will make the world just a little bit better and slightly more tolerable.
1) The past. To hell with the past.
I’m tired of it…all of it. I’m tired of trying to fix it and I’m tired of trying to measure up to it. I can’t change events that were out of my control. I can’t change events that were in my control. I can’t change what I said to a performer when I was a twenty something with barely an understanding of proper teaching techniques. I’m tired of trying to live up to past success. Yes, I’ve taught some great programs, but those programs are gone. They were gone last year and last decade. I care about the kids I am teaching today and the guards that trust me with their shows. I care about helping new instructors to not make the same mistakes I did. I care about moving the activity forward and letting go of the cattiness and fear that holds me back. I’m moving forward and you can ride on the train with me or you can catch your own. Either way my train is moving and it’s moving fast.
2) Your awards. My awards.
Fuck our awards. Your medals don’t mean anything to me when I’m having a drink with you in the bar at headquarters. When I see you I don’t see your awards and I hope you don’t see mine. (I actually don’t have very many, so that would be hard to see). If I’m having a drink with you then I’m seeing a good person. I’m seeing a person who has dedicated their life to a youth activity that brings passion to thousands. I see intelligence. I see passion. Not once, do I ever look at someone and think about their medals. When we lose someone in the activity I never think about their guard success. I always think about the good they brought to this screwed up world we live in and the passion they inspired in those they touched. I stopped caring about awards a couple years ago when I realized that I would never get inducted into a Hall of Fame anywhere in the country. I don’t really fit the mold and that’s o.k. I also know about a hundred people that won’t ever be inducted into any pageantry Hall of Fame as well and it doesn’t change who any of us are. The hall of fame we all live in lies within the programs and performers we have taught, as their tears of pain and tears of joy can never be matched by a trophy.
3) What you think of me.
Yeah…I really don’t give a shit. I finally, FINALLY, accept myself with all my flaws, quirks, and eccentricities, which means that no one including myself, is allowed to judge me ever again. I will never be a world class designer. I will never be a person that is tall and thin. I will never be rich. I am a 47 year old short woman who has taught some great programs and not so great programs and has had an exciting professional career. I’m a flawed mother. I’m a fierce advocate for those that don’t have a voice. I’m a wine drinking, outspoken, sometimes wrong, sometimes right, imperfect guard instructor that tries to make a difference in the world every single day. I believe in who I am and I’m not going back to that compliant, silent, fearful, person ever again. Once you reach this point, you’re free. I’m free and that allows me to not care what anyone thinks of me as long as I use my words for good.
4) The destination
We all start the season with a goal in mind. You want to make finals. I want to win. She wants to medal. He just wants the kids to get off the bus with all of their equipment. All of those goals are worthy and valid, but a goal is just an end result. My goal is always to have fun along the journey. I want to meet new friends and bring a new soul into the arena of pageantry so one day, they will look back and hold their memories of color guard dear to their heart, much like mom’s warm cookies on a day that wasn’t so perfect.
5) Petty conversations about tenths of points and who should have won the show
My guards never win. Ever. Ever. Ever. They have come close. They have also been ridiculously far out, but they rarely win. With that, it helps me to stop caring about a tenth here and there. I can’t make any judge change their thought process on how they see my teams. As a judge, I don’t think anyone cheats, whatever that actually means on a subjective sheet. I do think that our mindset gets skewed sometimes about what we think is artistic or whose name is attached to a program. I can’t change that. It’s an inherent flaw in the system. I simply refuse to argue about the difference between a 74.3 and a 74.8 and I simply don’t care who won the show. In fact, I can rarely tell you who won championships five minutes after the show is over. I have many more important things to discuss such as how to get more kids, especially the poor ones, access to the activity. I give a crap about crowd response. I want my kids to hear people clap for them. I care about women and misogynistic overtones that live as an undercurrent of the activity, especially when you look at judging panels and executive positions. I care about fairness with how the A class is treated and I care about educating a very under-educated instructional pool. I care about performers paying their freaking dues so people that run the guards aren’t left holding the financial bag of bills owed to vendors. So if you will, I’ll leave the petty in-fighting over tenths and placements to other people. And while I’m at it, I could care less about how A Class semi-finals is seeded. Jesus…am I the only one who gets tired of that proposal year in and year out?
6) Moving from season to season lacking purpose
I need purpose; a mission in life so to speak. I’ve found that when I’m too focused on my own aspirations that I become unhappy. That unhappiness is what forces me to write. It is the passion inside me that puts hand to keyboard to seek truth. It’s what makes me pursue dialog. I can talk to anyone and love to stay up late at night with good people and good conversation. Debate doesn’t scare me, which is why I don’t seem to have a problem with putting my thoughts out there. I seek something larger than what happens competitively during an individual season. I follow my heart and my heart doesn’t scream when the season doesn’t go my way. It use to. It doesn’t anymore. My heart can’t handle that anymore. I feel happy if when it’s all said and done, I’m sitting with a good friend talking about their life. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good victory lap around the arena, but I would rather do it with a nice glass of wine and a good friend to walk with.
The best part of aging is learning that when we leave the earth, the only thing that stays is the good you did for the people around you. In one of my favorite movies, The Big Chill, a movie where seven old friends come back together to mourn the passing of the friend that made them whole, is a scene where the friends find comfort in a good song while they dance cleaning the kitchen together. That’s it. That’s all I want. I want to stand in Dayton with my friends and dance. That’s what I give a fuck about.