The other day, while talking Downtown Dad through an episode of the doldrums, I found myself wishing I had not had such an aversion to cheerleaders in high school. Their too-bright smiles and polished perkiness now seemed important tools to me as I struggled to hold my level of emotional turmoil at bay while his washed over me like a level 5 hurricane. Surely, I thought, there was some secret technique for outward joy that cheerleaders learned along with those sharp and snappy synchronized motions. Even their spontaneous ability to chirp out something clever that rhymed was looking really useful to me just then. I wished at that moment that I had at least attended the cheerleading tryouts, if only for the scraps of skills I might have picked up.
Later, I kissed my beleaguered hubby goodbye as he trudged off to work, and waved enthusiastically from the door while pumping my fist in the air in what I hoped looked like a rah-rah gesture. It occurred to me that I could find help if perhaps there were some outlines of cheerleading skills on the Internet somewhere! Turns out there are, but these so-called skills are purely physical. As if I hadn’t already suspected, cheerleading is not a noble pursuit, entered into by a rare few spiritually endowed with abundant cheer. No, cheerleading is a sport! Cheerleaders don’t care about the game or sport or even the players they are cheering on. These girls and boys are focused solely on their performance, for which they win trophies – whether or not the team they were “cheering” won or lost. This revelation affirmed my original aversions, but did not help me in my quest for outward optimism while suffering from inward gloom.
OK, so cheerleading wasn’t the right word, maybe motivational speaker was more what I was looking for. Surely being the daughter and granddaughter of Southern Evangelical Baptist Ministers I had inherited a bit of the old balderdash gene. So that evening, in round two, I shifted my inner mental picture of me with pom-poms and a short skirt, to me in front of a congregation, fanning themselves, while occasionally nodding and murmuring amen. After a few half-hearted attempts at long dramatic pauses, crashing my fist into my palm, and ending-ah my words-ah with emphasis-ah, I had to scrap that notion too.
Just then, it dawned on me, that after 18 years of marriage, Downtown Dad and I have weathered a few storms together. Each one difficult and emotionally draining in its own way, but each one dealt with individually and from the soul, not with a ready-made bag of tricks. As it turns out, you don’t need any of those snappy jumps and kicks or that old time voice modulation-ah. To quote from the gospel of John, Paul, George, and Ringo – All you need is love.