There it was.
In an Instagram story on the day before Thanksgiving, it all became clear. My son, sitting at a table with his idols, who became mentors, then friends, were now his extended family. Twenty nine years of skating was summed up in only a few words inserted over a photo taken in a restaurant.
I don’t know how to describe exactly how I felt; perhaps that’s why it has taken me a few days to organize my thoughts. But as the last Grand Prix of this Olympic season got underway in Lake Placid today, it made me think of everything it took to get us to where we are now, to every experience along the way, and to all the people who were the tight fabric – or the loose threads – that wove our journey to this revered and almost sacred place in skating called “Family.”
The timing for his post could not have been better because I had just spent a week with my daughter in Idaho culling through a mélange of literally hundreds of old photos that had managed to find their way into boxes, envelopes, tattered scrapbooks, crates and suitcases. Some I hadn’t seen in more than 25 years; some were more recent. For better or worse, they all brought back a flood of memories surrounding that one particular moment now frozen in time.
Images scattered on the floor took me on a visual and mental roller coaster ride from Vancouver in 2010, back to Aspen in 1989, and forward at seemingly warp speed to Sochi 2014 and Stars on Ice this spring. Years of competitions were laid out before me. Not all the images were salvageable after decades of wear, weather and bad storage, but most of the memories remained, even if the pictures were faded.
I bring this up mostly because today we live in a digital world where we are posting our lives by the hour and minute to a multitude of social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Tumblr. Everything is in the “now.” Many are designed to simply disappear. It is true that they are not all jewels worth preserving, but the aggregate make up the more linear stories of our lives.
|Nick Kole, Evan Gibbs, John Coughlin, Jeremy Abbott|
My point is this:
Make sure you document and preserve important milestones for posterity. Make sure you don’t discard those photos from a young age with friends and competitors alike. Take pictures with coaches and judges. If you meet someone you look up to, make sure to record the moment. We live in a world of disposable media, but that doesn’t mean we should also dispose of the memories that caused us to press the button and save the moment. Images are catalysts. They can remind us where we have been so we can appreciate how far we have come, and how quickly the time in between has passed. And how, along the way, idols became mentors, and mentors became trusted friends who are now truly family - not just in skating, but in life.