Very often I tell my students in public speaking and writing, that even if they fail to speak well at an event, or are rejected by newspapers, to keep trying till they are good at it.

I bring in this example of what I saw: It was at the ice rink at Bryant Park near Times Square in New York a few years ago. A girl in particular got my attention. With a black sleeveless sweater and a pair of jeans she was an impressive figure as she cheekily cut through beginners, twirled round and did a figure of eight as easily as a trapeze artist impresses with his performance.

After about a half an hour of skating she came to the side, where I sat and spoke to an old couple in Spanish. I did not understand what they spoke, but from the laughter and gestures, I can imagine it went something like this with her father saying, “You are good my daughter, everybody is looking at you!”

“Si padre,” the girl replied, “last year also everybody was looking at me, as I fell a hundred times!”

“You learnt not to let their laughter affect you my child!” said the father.

“I learnt not to take myself seriously!” winked the girl.

“And what is that?” asked her father, a twinkle in his eyes.

“Not to think I was the most important person on the skating rink last year padre, that even if I fell, not to think how stupid I was too fall!”

“You fell many times my child!”

“Si Padre I did, but I got up immediately.”

“With a smile!”

“Yes, with a smile, because I was laughing at how comically I fell and even then, thinking how I would tell my friends next day of my falls in Bryan Park!”

“And now,” said the father proudly, “just look at you, you are the best person on the rink!”

“No padre I am not the best person on the rink! If I thought so, I am again taking myself too seriously by feeling very important, and when we feel important, we cannot laugh at our falls. No padre, I am the person on the rink, who’s having fun!”

That’s what every experience is about, all learning about; having fun! Also, that’s what happens when you can laugh at yourself, when you are not upset by the laughter of others. When you don’t take yourself seriously, you rise high and succeed more than others, who spend their whole lives thinking how important they are.

She glided towards me and smiled. I smiled back, even as someone, a novice banged into her. Both fell, but I heard her chuckle as she picked the other person up, after getting up herself, and then both went into a peal of giggles. “Bravo!” cried her dad as she skated off!

Yes, laugh and pick yourself up..!

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