With a touch more grace
So the world has a new prince: Prince George of England.
Let me just say up front that, officially, I don’t care.
The British royal family has no real authority, they’re halfway around the world and, 230-some years ago, some of my ancestors fought a couple wars so that I wouldn’t have to care.
Nevertheless, every time I open my web browser, there’s another picture of the royal family.
We, meaning Americans, seem to be weirdly fascinated with the royals. I remember spending most of one night 16 years ago with my wife riveted to the TV watching the coverage of Princess Di’s car crash.
It was memorable because it was one of the few times in our marriage she was up later than me.
I’ve been trying to figure out exactly why we Americans are so interested in them.
And, sure, as a father of daughters, I’m very aware that there’s the whole princess/fairy tale angle to the story. But I don’t think that comes close to explaining the whole thing.
And then I consider this beautiful young lady, Kate Middleton, and I think about her predecessor in that role, Lady Diana Spencer, and then it hits me.
These two ladies embody something that we rarely see in American life: grace.
But, what exactly is grace? Is this one of those odd things that “I can’t tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it?”
When an athlete or a dancer is graceful, they move in a way that makes everything seem easy and natural, like they’re not even working.
And I think, in this context, that is also what grace is: Moving through life with ease.
Sure, it’s a lot simpler for a person who has a billion-dollar fortune, castles, free travel and titles.
But, that’s not everything: Princess Di went through some very difficult things, including divorces, public humiliation, and the constant hounding of the paparazzi.
But her public persona was always pleasant, of having time for other people, of caring for her charities more than for her own little concerns, and of somehow striving to be better than the petty life the press wanted her to have.
I’m sure behind closed doors she had her moments, and I doubt very much that she was anybody’s doormat, but, for the world, she was the Princess.
You just can’t ever imagine Diana getting stuck in a rehab center with Lindsay Lohan; you have a really hard time picturing Kate having a public meltdown like Mel Gibson; and the thought of either of them berating somebody a la Donald Trump is ludicrous.
But grace needn’t be confined to the rich and famous.
On a smaller scale, we can all stand to practice it more. I know I can (right, kids?).
I’ll bet we can all be a little less scornful of the poor, frazzled teenager trying to find a seat for us at a restaurant; we can all be a little better about saying thank you to somebody who tries to help, instead of criticizing that it wasn’t done exactly how we would have done it; we can all try to hold our tongue a little better, when nothing is to be gained by correcting another’s trivial errors.
Maybe grace is merely a stylistic concern, a superficial gloss on the dingy substance of human existence.
But I would submit that, in the long run, there is nothing superficial about maintaining good relationships.
And, perhaps, a little touch of royal grace could go a long way in cementing the kind of loyalty that holds relationships together.
Michael Alcorn is a music teacher and fitness instructor who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. He graduated from Alameda High School and the University of Colorado-Boulder.