We all have a seemingly insurmountable mountain to climb.
Each and everyone of us.
For some it’s getting up and giving a public speech in front of hundreds of people or having the courage to fly in an airplane or facing down a bully or paying off overwhelming debt and mounting bills or trying to mend fences with someone who has wounded you.
Or climbing a mountain.
When you are in middle school and 4’10” and you are a little shy and used to having your twin sister with you everywhere you go….
….your mountain is basketball camp.
I first heard about basketball camp four months ago.
That’s when she started worrying.
“Mom,” she said. “I have basketball camp this July and I need to start practicing. I want to be ready.”
And practice she did.
I’d look out the window and watch her. Morning after morning she ran and practiced and dribbled and lay-upd and freethrowed and zigged and zagged and shot basket after basket after basket. Sometimes her brother would help her, but most of the time it was just her and the morning and the basketball goal.
Finally the week of basketball camp arrived.
We had endless discussions about it.
Her big blue eyes would fill up with nervousness and she’d ask me question after question.
Could she do it? What if she was the worst one there? Did I know that there were going to be boys at basketball camp, too? What if everyone were watching and she couldn’t shoot any baskets? What if they laughed at her? What if she got sick?
And as I listened, my answer would always be the same. I’d tell her she had this.
That she was amazing.
That she had the one thing that all mountain climbers need in abundance.
The morning of basketball camp dawned bright and early.
The sun was shining and the birds were chirping and I was driving a basketball player down winding country roads to the school.
We didn’t talk much on the way.
Mostly she tapped the seat and looked out the window and set her lips in a firm line and stared straight ahead. Finally, we pulled up to the school and she grabbed my hand and squeezed it tight and gave me one last long look of resolve.
Then she braced her shoulders and disappeared into the gym.
I wish this was the part of the story where I told you she shot the winning basket with two seconds to spare and the team carried her out on their shoulders.
I love an ending like that. But this is a mountain. And many times mountains are difficult to climb.
The week was hard.
There were ups and downs and challenges and baskets she made and baskets she wished with all her might would have sailed in through the hoop.
The last day of camp was the awards ceremony.
Before she left we talked about it. We discussed that awards are wonderful and amazing and incredible and if she got one we would jump up and down and celebrate, but if she didn’t…..no worries. She didn’t need an award to tell her she was a winner. She had already won every award that was important. She had done something that so many people never do.
She had faced a fear.
She had climbed her mountain.
When I picked her up from camp, she came running to the car. Her backpack was dragging behind her and her blonde braid and tiny blonde curls were bouncing in the wind as she ran up to the window waving a certificate with a smile on her face as big as Texas.
“I got it Mom,” she shouted with the certificate crumpled in her hand. “I won. I got an award.”
Most respectful basketball player.
There it was in black and white with her name printed beneath.
I couldn’t have been any prouder.
Although, just between us, I think it should have read…..
….Best Mountain Climber. 🙂
PS She also got Most Improved Basketball Player, too. 🙂
PPS I was taking pictures of the kitchen yesterday for an Instagram takeover I’m working on with a brand.
I told her I needed a picture with a celebrity. 🙂