“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Figure skating was solace. I loved the cold, rink air against my cheeks, the sound of my blades carving grooves into the ice, and the intoxicating scent of Trident tropical gum, cool air, and Zamboni gas. That was absolute freedom. As I grew taller, and the cost of ice time, coaching and competitions increased and recurring injuries became normal, the ice rink began to feel like a cage. The boards around the rink trapped me into expectations, and my skate laces bound me in struggles, disappointment and frustration. I felt trapped where I once felt free.

Aggressive renal cancer ended my Dad’s life 10 days before my college graduation. I felt tied up even tighter, until I decided to coach figure skating. 10 years after I quit, I stepped onto the ice. The boards that became a cage now sheltered me for 4 hours two days a week, as I worked to bring the feeling of freedom to my students.

I’m realizing that life hangs in a delicate balance like a blade wobbling on the ice. Skill, confidence, love and luck guide the blade on its course. I will remember I can create space for myself and others to grow and change. I will remember I can choose—to change my mind, my passions, and transform to feel free, the way I once again do when I step onto the ice.

— Keta Burke-Williams