Learning to Love What You Don’t Like

5 Dec

I don’t like ballet.  At all.

I’m not a classical music connoisseur.  I remember entire Christmas seasons spent baking cookies (for Nutcracker fundraisers) and watching “Christmas” become “the very exhausting day after the Nutcracker.” And there was the Spaulding High School showcase where my sister debuted as a dancer – it was BAD.  The little ones were on stage for maybe 35 seconds but we had to sit there for over 3 hours.  Where each act was begun with the reading of a very terribly trite poem (the kind where the rhymes are only one syllable, like sad/bad and clown/gown and cheer/dear).  If I recall correctly, it had a carnival theme.  Not something a clown-phobic person appreciates.

One year, as a young teen, I figured I’d work backstage at the Nutcracker and come to appreciate it from a different perspective.  Unfortunately, that perspective involved a lot of assisting in the men’s dressing room where they walked around, full of themselves and their accomplishments, wearing only cups.  Not a perspective I appreciated.

I don’t like ballet.  At all.

But this past weekend, watching my sister dance as the Sugar Plum Fairy, I realized that I love ballet.  Because she loves it.  Because she makes something I don’t like very enjoyable.  Because, over the years, I have learned to watch the hands and the smile and the curve of the neck and how tightly someone turns and how upright they remain during a spin.  And because she makes something hard look effortless and beautiful.

And because, when I think about my childhood, I remember quite a few “hard times” we survived as a family.  But I remember my sister being cast as Clara in the Nutcracker and thinking “Wow, good things can happen to us.”  And I remember being more excited for her and that opportunity than if I’d won a Pulitzer or something.  It felt like a big deal.

In retrospect, it was a mid-sized deal.  But sometimes the diminutive deals and the mid-sized deals matter more than the big deals.  My brother getting into Yale is a big deal.  My company paying for my MBA is a big deal.  And although I’m grateful for both opportunities, I don’t have as many pleasant emotions connected to them as I do to the day my sister’s talent and hard work paid off and she got to be that girl who gets to be the star of the show.

And now, she’s still the star of the show.  Just the “external star” that comes in as a guest performer.  And now she’s the one who chooses to change in the men’s dressing room (better her than me, that’s all I’m saying).

And I don’t like ballet.  And, even despite my sisterly loyalty, I am willing to admit that I don’t like ballet.  And whether I view it as a sport or just an artistic profession is still being debated.  But I am ready to admit that I love ballet because I love my sister.  It’s that simple.

(But I didn’t like or love her short tap-dancing stint.  In case you were curious.)

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4 Responses to “Learning to Love What You Don’t Like”

  1. Debs December 5, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    Love you Liz. This made me cry.
    PS they aren’t cups, they are dance belts. Get out of the sports world for one second!

    • ezelie December 5, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

      Really, they’re called dance belts? Never knew that. But as long as you promise to never ever tap dance ever again, I’ll be happy to learn the dance terminology.

  2. Laura December 6, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    this was beautiful. thanks for sharing.

  3. acmcfarthing December 6, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Sweet post… Maybe I will learn to love running someday because so many of my friends (not to mention Paul) do! Maybe.

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