Ready, Set …
I caught pieces of the Olympic Games this past summer. The races are boring, and there are rarely Americans to cheer for, but the beginnings of the races are gripping.
The runners are positioned, set – toes pushing hard against the blocks, fingers rigidly pushing back against the track, heads down, breathing focused, muscles taunt, ears straining for the fake pistol sound that will be projected out of the speaker behind them at any moment.
The crowd that was just cheering as their favorite athlete was announced hushes to a murmur. Tension mounts. People hold their breath without meaning to.
It’s an intense moment.
Because there is no countdown.
In that moment you’re set – poised, unflinching, ignoring the sweat in your eyes or the itch on your arm – knowing that at any time you will sprint forward to do one of the hardest things you may ever do, and that the result may be either one of the greatest honors or greatest disappointments you ever experience.
I feel like my fingers are straining against the proverbial pavement, and it’s a little intense.
My body is fairly prepared. I know the plan, and I know Plans B and C for dealing with complications that might arise. The pre-season is over, the experts have been consulted, and here I am, on race day, wedged between the starting line and the block I’m supposed to launch off of … and I’m just waiting.
I can’t just start because I’m ready and I want to.
And there is no countdown, not really. Just silence.
Just me, wedged between four years of prayer and my entire world shifting on its axis, waiting. Just me, poised and ready, holding my breath because I know I’m about to start one of the hardest things I will ever do.
Any day now a new voice will enter the world for the first time, and it will be up to my husband and me to teach it how to sing. Any day now a new set of eyes will open to the world – in all of its concurrent beauty and pain – and it will be our job to guide and teach them. Any day now a new and very helpless little person will breathe on his own for the first time, and each successive breath will be very much my responsibility.
Any day now my priorities will radically shift. The way I manage and spend my time will be completely overhauled. My heart might explode with loving another person this much, and elements of my very purpose in life will totally change. Forever.
But right now I’m just here, holding my breath, squeezing my toes against the block, trying to keep my weight shifted for the best possible take-off, holding my breath, eyes closed … waiting. Waiting for it all to start. Waiting for the silence to be broken.
It’s an intense moment.