Friday, March 25, 2016

Water and wind

On our many walks along the beach we often watch the parasailers, surfers or folks doing stand-up paddle board.  We are often amazed by their grace and skill on the water.   I have no idea how long it takes someone to get really good at these sports.   What I do know for sure is that it takes practise, struggle and some serious determination to go from weekend enthusiast to someone who masters these endeavors.  They go out into the sea over and over again, even when they don't particularly feel like it, even when their bodies are sore and tired.  It doesn't take long to learn how to spot those who are truly serious, distinguishing them from those who are simply out for a good time.

 Years ago I set a goal for myself that I wanted to learn to play the piano.   I signed up to take lessons. I had a decent old piano to practise on.  I got a book and started practicing. But I hated it.   I cringed at every mistake.  I couldn't stand being awful at it long enough to get past the beginner stage.  It didn't help that there was a very young Asian kid who played magnificent sonatas and classical works who was scheduled in the spot right before my weekly lessons.   I would sit listening to his performance and then follow with my own shaky rendition of Go Tell Aunt Rhody the Old Grey Goose is Dead.   It was demoralizing. Week after week went by without me being able to see any significant improvement.  Frustrated, I eventually quit.  Because of that, today I do not know how to read music or play the piano.   Had I been willing to tolerate my own fumbling mediocrity a bit longer, recognizing that early stages of any new skill inevitably has a season of stumbles, things might have turned out very differently.

As I watch the varying abilities of the many who flock to the beaches to ride the waves and air currents, or to glide smoothly on the water's surface, I cannot help but wonder what things in my life I am willing to learn now without giving up.

What am I willing to work at and make sacrifices for?  What am I willing to truly commit to, even when it feels discouraging and hard?

I've been thinking about those questions, and revising my own personal life bucket list.  It will be interesting to see where it takes me.

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