Light in the Darkness | Teen Ink

Light in the Darkness

September 9, 2021
By Helenashen BRONZE, Fremont, California
Helenashen BRONZE, Fremont, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Jan. 20th, 2021, during the 46th US Presidential Inauguration ceremony, Amanda Gorman, the National Youth Poet Laureate, recited her poem with this beginning line: “When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?” Throughout the tragic year of 2020, not only have we experienced the now widespread and well-known effects of the coronavirus, but we have also had to say our goodbyes to many heroes and icons that will forever remain in our hearts. 2020 was a year in which optimism itself was perpetually juxtaposed with heart-wrenching loss.
As a 12-year-old 8th grader, my life was also changed by a huge loss. No, it’s not my hair. I’m not that old yet. No, it’s not my smile. It is still as beautiful as ever. What 2020 took away was my first true love. Sorry mother but know you’re right up there too! This love I speak of is what I’ve devoted 7 years of my life to; my everyday routine; my passion; my drive ---Figure Skating.
It’s an arduous task putting the joy of figure skating into words. It’s not just a mere sport, it is another state of being. When I glide on the ice, the blades of my boots ever so slightly leave behind precise incisions. When I spin on the ice, my hair is enveloped in a synchronous dance with the wind. When I skate fast and come to a sudden hockey stop, I can see the chips of ice levitating in the air -- ephemeral, yet gratifying. Figure skating allows me to become one with my surroundings! Before Covid-19, I skated ten hours a week. Even on vacations, in places where a rink was not accessible, you could still find me practicing. Yeeeup that kid you saw spinning and doing balancing drills? That wasn’t taichi, that was me. Point is, I loved figure skating so much I never thought there would come a day when I would NOT be allowed to skate anymore. However, COVID-19 ripped it away from me on March 13, 2020, the day that all skating rinks in the bay area were closed until further notice. I was shocked. I didn’t know what to do. How could I go on without skating? How could I keep up my level of progress? And when will I be able to get off a clean and crisp double axel??? It must’ve been what a certain someone felt like when Twitter was ripped away from him! He didn’t do anything wrong! All he did was incite revolution and fake news! Ok, on second thought, he did deserve to lose the privileges. But what about me? What have I done?
I got in touch with my coach, who encouraged me to continue my off-ice training. That would at least help retain my muscle memory and keep me in shape. To be honest, without the facility, the coach by my side, and my other skating friends’ collective optimism, it would not have been possible to move forward. I started to think, “this is a privilege of mine.” Not everyone is necessarily as fortunate as I am to have such a strong support group to get me through this tough time. What about the others who are stuck in this terrible situation, yet have no way out? How can I continue doing exercises, not only by
myself but also encourage other students to stay active? With strong support from my mother I created a brand-new online exercise channel smack-dab middle of COVID-19. I wanted to encourage more adolescents to do exercises with me. It’s “shelter in place”, not “shelter on couch.” SIP doesn’t give you an excuse to become a couch potato. We gotta watch our bellies. Back to my story. Starting in May, I created my online zoom workout group and I even started to publish daily workout videos on social media. Every Sunday, I led 4-14 year old to workout together through Zoom. It wasn’t just a place to work out, it was a community -- a chance for us to get some social interaction during these hard times. It was widely welcomed by lots of families likely because of my workout’s attention to both physical health, and mental health. Now, 8 months later, over 200 families from the East Coast, Mid-US, and west coast join me for this group workout. I received lots of positive feedback from parents and kids. Everything is arranged by myself, including workout program design, music selection, and nutritional information sharing at the end of the session. I put a lot of thought into this event every week. Each holiday, I’d come up with a special theme for the workout. For example, on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I created the “partner workout”. Participants invited their parents to exercise with them. One of my favorite partner exercises was called the “Pass Along”. The title itself is pretty self-explanatory. But hear me out--you get to throw things at each other. Nothing dangerous like razor blades, just simple objects like plastic water bottles. Last week, I conducted an interview session with 4 teenagers. Each of them has been doing one sport for a long time. In the interview, they shared with younger kids their passion, specialty, experience, and sports tips. This was heavily suggested by some parents because many of their kids wanted to do different sports in the long run. Since these kids were--what--this many (5 fingers) and about yea high--their parents wanted some input. Oh boy, this was my most popular class with over 40 people in the session! And all for free!
Don’t make me out to be a superhero or a martyr of some sort. I just do what I do because I genuinely enjoy it. And, I’m not the only one out here doing it. It’s so inspiring to see how many children are finding ways to contribute to the community. A girl in Maryland made five thousand bracelets ingrained with the words “hope” and “love”. She delivered them to hundreds of hospital nurses. A teenager and his father took up wood-cutting and fabricated simple wooden writing desks. They then donated these tools to students who were learning remotely but didn’t have a study desk. These little things remind us that humanity can find the light despite the never-ending shade. Barring that, we can create our own light.
2020 was not an easy year for anyone, there are lots of things that got out of our control. But, I believe, kids like me can still encourage peers, inspire families, and empower communities. When thinking of triumph amidst a bleak circumstance, I am reminded of an excerpt from Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Twin Cities.” “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.”. 2020 is already behind us, and the spring of 2021 is coming. I had a dream last night. I dreamed that the ice rink would open again and it’d be graced with the presence of ice skaters, lovers, families, and friends. When I slipped on my skates, tied up the laces, and glided on the ice, it felt like finding my way back home. I woke up today, knowing it was a dream. Nah, it is not only a dream. I believe it will come true in the spring of 2021!
On Jan. 20th, 2021, during the 46th US Presidential Inauguration ceremony, Amanda Gorman, the National Youth Poet Laureate, finished her speech with this. “When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it.” Like Harvey Dent says, “The night is darkest before the dawn” and I’m here to tell you, the dawn is here. We’ll reach it, together!

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