When was the last time I worked hard to learn something new? That is what The Daily Post is asking me to remember. I can only hang my head in shame and admit that I tend to give up quickly when I try something out that I am not good at. I am prepared to refine a skill that seems to have been lying dormant deep within me, waiting to be nurtured and grown. Languages, for example – easy peasy. Give me another one any time. But unless I feel from the outset that there is the potential for me to do reasonably well I lose interest very quickly. I am not sure why that is. It goes against the mantra I was raised with by the Nuns: that you had to work on something, anything, always. They taught that you couldn’t expect things to be good all by themselves, there had to be effort involved. Which has kept me in an unhappy marriage for longer than was really necessary. In fact I might never have taken the decision to get married then had I had the insights I do now: I now know there are key things you not only can, but should expect feel natural and good without any effort, and relationships with a partner firmly belong in that category. Of course there will be little niggles but if the relationship itself feels like it is work rather than enrichment, ditch it. It drains rather than adds to your life. Nuns, what do they know!
I suspect that laziness and competitiveness both play a role in my tendency to give up quickly. There just isn’t much spare time in my life, and even less energy. It serves me well to direct the energy I do have effectively: it helps get through the challenges of every day life. However effectiveness is not conducive to trying out new things just for the heck of it. Testing potential requires a certain abundance of energy I can’t always muster. Which is a shame really: I must be missing out on tons of experiences.
In my defense I took a leap of faith just last week and attended a yoga class for the first time in my life. I had always believed yoga was not for me, but I enjoyed it and I am going back next week. You guessed it, I did allright. I managed to stretch and contort myself as instructed, and nobody knows every muscle in my body ached the next day. Did you know you can overstretch your foot soles?
The yoga class was not competitive. It is simply impossible to stare at other people while you’re straining to keep your balance and holding your gaze at the ceiling or over your shoulder or some other uncomfortable place. That may have helped. I don’t like being really bad at something other people clearly find easy to do. It makes me feel inadequate. It makes sense to leave the stars to it and find something I can be good at, doesn’t it? Why torture yourself? Find your niche!
I find I feel less guilty admitting this to you all than I had expected. A feeling of loss actually pervades instead: I realize I miss out on the sense of achievement that comes with accomplishment. I mostly pursue interests and activities that seem achievable, and when I get good at them it merely feels as if I’ve completed a set track. I don’t excel or beat the odds. Catch-22 really: I would love a sense of real accomplishment, but I can only get it by getting good at something I have lost interest in, and what is the point of that? I’ll have to work on feeling more proud of the things I can do, regardless of the effort that was involved. Stuff the Nuns’ teachings.
Sunday afternoon. I find myself with some time on my hands. I’ve done the Christmas shopping (don’t you love the interweb? I have family with obscure wishlists you just can’t fulfill by going to the local shops) and most of my chores around the house. What next? Spurred on by Fish of Gold and Rarasaur I had a look at the Daily Post, just in case I could come up with some scribble for the day. And what do you know? I got 2 in 1 – today’s prompt and yesterday’s all wrapped in one:
I must have been about 5 years old. It was a balmy July day, and my mum had decided to take us to the seaside. Yay us! We couldn’t wait to get into our swimsuits, fumbling inside a bathing towel mum held up around us. Slap on some sunscreen – or did we not even bother with that in those days? I can’t remember – and we sped into the surf. Mum stayed with the cooler bag and the towels on the beach. Reading, probably, although I wasn’t following that at the time. She must have been, because otherwise there would have been no place for the Hero in my story.
We rolled around in the waves until we were cold and hungry. Well I was. I left the waves to roll on without me, turning to the beach. What a vast expanse of sand. I started walking in the general direction of where I knew my mum must be. How could I have drifted off so far? I plodded on through the wet sand, the broken bits of shell hurting my feet. And then I stopped. Right in front of me was a colony of jellyfish run aground in the sand, waiting for high tide to take them back to sea. They were the nasty stingy ones, and they were everywhere. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t dare cross the jelly field, and I couldn’t see a way around it. Why wasn’t my mum here to help me? Where was she anyway? I must have started crying, for suddenly a man appeared next to me out of nowhere, asking if I wanted help getting across the jellies? “Yeyeyeyessss please…” I must have stuttered. All I can remember is being scooped up and carried around or across the nasties and delivered safely on my own two feet in dry sand. My Hero! Whom I will never know. And then my mum came running.