I hate it when I can’t do something. And there are so many “somethings” that I can’t do! There are a plethora of languages I don’t speak, multiple scientific and mathematical principles I don’t get, so many vocational skills I have not obtained, and revelations I am not privy to (Like: Did Adam have a belly button? And: Where do the dinosaurs fit into the “Creation”?). Not to mention grammatical rules I haven’t learned that I’m sure you will (or already have) noticed in my blog posts.
Many of these things I’m so far from being able to do, that they’re not really on my radar. But there are a few things that it really irks me that I can’t do. Like knitting. I can crochet, but why can’t a knit? That annoys me! I know I could learn, but who has the time?
Then there are the things I CAN do, but get so frustrated that I can’t do better. Like crochet, speak Spanish, swim, ride a bike, do math, run, or play the trombone. I can kind of do those things, but not very well and it’s inhibiting. If only I could do them better, I would be free to do them as I please. As it is, I hit a road block the minute I try to translate something from Spanish, help my kids with math, or make a freaking visor on a beanie! I tried so hard on that one. I started over about 6 times, ending up opting out of the visor thing altogether.
We’re always told (especially in the Mormon church) to develop our talents. For much of my life I insisted that I had none to develop, thus copping out of putting forth any effort toward anything at all. But I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of things we may not be necessarily “talented” at, but should be developed nonetheless. We can make ourselves and even other people happier through our emerging “talents”. I’m not a great crocheter, but I can make a simple beanie. And who doesn’t love a beanie (with or without a visor)? I run very slowly, but I can run for hours. I’m not a famous or even a consistent blogger, but I have a few friends who like what I write.
Sometimes you work on developing a talent because you enjoy it, but other times you get joy out of a skill BECAUSE you’ve developed it. I enjoy running, but never had the slightest desire to ever run a marathon (26.2 miles). At all. When a friend of mine asked if I wanted to run a half marathon (13.1 miles) with her I laughed in her face (in an e-mail). But the more I thought about it the more I wanted to. I knew I could run six miles, so I tried eight. I ran eight just fine so I tried nine. Soon I was running 11 miles and knew I could kick it up to 13.1 if it was all down hill (which it was). After running a half marathon I wanted to run another and I figured, hey, if I can run a half of a marathon 50 pounds overweight, then why not at least TRY the full marathon if I can lose those 50 pounds? I haven’t run a marathon yet, but I am going to. And I never even wanted to until I was already halfway there.
Some of our abilities require A LOT of hard work and dedication. I can’t run a marathon just because I want to. I have to lose some weight and train for it and that takes time and a whole lotta energy. And just because I once knew how to play the trombone (14 years ago) doesn’t mean I can now be a part of an amateur orchestra playing for a sing-a-long of Handel’s “Messiah.” No matter how much I want to!
I spent a good part of this afternoon super frustrated that I not only couldn’t figure out the music, but I really only remembered how to play one note. I gave in to self pity at my lost talent and got so mad at myself for not being able to do something that I really wanted to do, that I gave up completely. And I did not like that one bit. I do not like quitting. So I finally decided that I wanted it bad enough and I would do what it would take. So I am re-teaching myself how to play the trombone. I have a beginners book and if I do a page a day I will have completed the book with almost two months left before Christmas to learn the music. Then I’ll just have to have my friend help me with the notes that are too high or too low to be in the book. If I still can’t get it, at least I didn’t give up without a fight. If Christmas comes and I am not able to play the music from the “Messiah” at least I’ll be able to play the trombone better than I could before. And best case scenario, I AM able to play it, and I have a great experience born of hard work and determination. Either way I’ll feel good about myself.
Working on developing a talent or skill is a win/win situation, I’ll never regret spending time working on an ability. To an extent, I mean, you don’t want to neglect your kids and responsibilities because you are working on a hobby. But aside from that, you can’t go wrong learning something new or honing a previously learned skill. Now I’m going to go crochet me some beanies (without visors).