Virtual Voices

Olympic inspiration

Sports

I don't know about you, but my family has stayed up way too late the past two weeks watching the Olympics. The kids are riveted on Lolo and Michael P. and those amazing synchronized Chinese divers, but what is flashing before Mama's eyes are memories of the elfin Nadia, her bear of a coach Bela, and Mary Lou with her perfect 10.

As I watch my kiddos glued to the TV, groaning at every commercial interruption, hurrying their snack preparation so as not to miss a single moment, I am again smacked upside the head with the impact such Herculean feats can have on children.

To wit: A few weeks ago, my beloved high school orchestra director passed away. Here's the memory I chose to put on his Facebook wall:

"One day during orchestra Mr. Wallace put the Tchaikovsky competition on TV. I sat for an hour mesmerized by the most incredible violin playing I'd ever heard.

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"Right after class, my mom picked me up for my violin lesson. I had just started with a terrifying Russian teacher from the Denver Symphony whom I could never please. As I began to play the same Mozart concerto we'd been laboriously slogging through for months, I noticed my teacher didn't jump in with a hundred criticisms like he usually did. For once he was silent. I didn't know what to do, so I kept playing until, finally, he jumped up, jabbed a finger in my face, and said, 'What has happened to you, A-mee? Last week you play like (grimaces) and thees week you play like-uh … dees? I do not understand. Tell me vut has happened to you!'

"What happened to me was Mr. Wallace, a teacher and friend who unwittingly inspired something approaching beautiful out of a short, frumpy Itzhak Perlman wannabe. And she's forever grateful."

What I love best about the Olympics is not the hype or the who-is-doing-steroids-this-year drama, but hearing about how many current Olympic athletes were inspired by past Olympians. Many of them caught a dream watching others shoot for and obtain gold. That's how I felt that day watching the Tchaikovsky competition: I caught a dream. A dream no amount of scale practice, theory drill, or scary teacher could beat into me.

The other night we were watching the women's gymnastics individual final. Suddenly I realized I was by myself on the couch. Two girls and one boy were on the floor, one trying to do a backbend, one stretching into something resembling a split, another contorting himself into an unrecognizable position, muttering, "How do they do that?"

It's called the power of inspiration. And you never know how God is going to use it.

Amy Henry
Amy Henry

Amy is a married mother of six and a WORLD correspondent from Kansas. Follow her other "scribbles" at Whole Mama or by reading her book Story Mama: What Children's Stories Teach Us About Life, Love and Mothering. Follow Amy on Twitter @wholemama.

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