What if you absolutely love doing something you absolutely suck at?
Well, probably best to keep that private, huh? Hence all of that singing in the shower. For me anyway.
But, what has happened to me, as I’ve explored pursuits beyond money-making ones, is an appreciation of what I loved doing as a child. If you’ve ever had a life coach, or read self-help books, you’ll come across that suggestion and it’s helpful to reflect, fondly, on the activities you’d get lost in before paying the mortgage or rent topped the “To Do” list.
Me? I danced. I was barely out of diapers when Mom had me signed up for Highland dancing. Picture it – platinum-haired little me in a wee kilt, tip-toeing (carefully) over swords to bagpipe music. After that, there was tap, jazz and acrobatic dance and then, eventually, gymnastics. I love moving my body to music, so it’s really no surprise I’m a Jazzercise instructor.
And I’ve mentioned before my love of reading and books. Get this. After 50 years – 50 years! – I still recall the pleasure I felt when Miss Hastings handed me my first reader in Grade 1. Fun with Dick and Jane: See Spot Run. It must have been a fairly new copy because I remember the scent of print and paper emanating as I opened it. Oh. So sweet. Again, for me, reading and writing make sense.
In a perfect world, the pursuits you love and the love you pursue would all match up and you’d have blissful relationships and make tons of dough just playing day after day. But, dammit, we all can’t be Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The majority of us must follow Oprah’s advice: “Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.”
I’ve always told my kids this: “Do what you have to do and do what you want to do on the side.”
It’s the sucky part, isn’t it, of being born into a capitalistic society. We’re back to Darcy Harris now, and her paper on the Oppression of the Bereaved. “A capitalistic society is governed by the high value placed upon productivity, competition, and consumerism. Brookfield (2005) describes capitalistic societies as those which tend to define human worth ‘in economic terms by the elevation of materialistic values over the human values of compassion, skill, or creativity’.”
Materialism over humanity? No wonder it’s so hard for us to maintain compassion, skill and creativity. Our very survival depends on materialism.
But I started off talking about loving activities that we suck at. Is there value in that? Is there value in play that generates no income? Think back. When you were not quite three-years-old and had a “silber shobel”, as my granddaughter Simone calls it, and a silber bucket and a mound of powdery black dirt in front of you and a hole to toss it into, did you give a crap if you were good at it and the world cared? Hell no. You were in the moment, living life.
In Younger Next Year, there’s a piece early on called “Jessica Alone”. Now, the main point Chris (Crowley) makes is how Jessica handled the last forty years of her life alone just fine, but what I want to draw attention to is how she did stuff and didn’t give a crap if she was any good at it.
Says Chris, “. . . she did stuff, partly because she had to make a living. She was an editor for a while. Then she had a shop for years, where she sold goofy clothes and Mexican doo-dahs. She started a weekly show on the tiny TV station in her town. Lots of local news, lots of gossip, lots of dogs, for some reason. She had dinner parties all the time, even though she was a wretched cook. She was so serenely uninterested in her limitations that she wrote and published a cookbook just before she died. She did stuff, no matter what.”
She was a “wretched cook”, yet held dinner parties! She was “serenely uninterested in her limitations”! When she died Chris said she was “heartbreakingly young at eighty-something”.
Love what you do and do what you love as often as you can. Whether you’re good at it or not.
How does that saying go? Growing old is mandatory, maturing is optional? Play, play, play. Stay heartbreakingly young, my friends. No matter what.