Archive for May 25th, 2010


Regrets, There are Always Some

Many of mine are things that I *didn’t* do, although some are things I did do.

When I was quite young, my mom was taking me for swimming and diving lessons. I remember that the diving instructor was excited about my potential – mom said he was pushing me too hard, and that he was thinking I was Olympic material. I don’t know if that is true, but I do remember taking a dive, arching my back too much, and hitting the water such that it arched my back more.

I also remember seeing my mother freak out because I was hurt (I don’t know if I cried or just told them that my back hurt) and yelling at the instructor to save me, even though I was swimming to the ladder. I learned early, then, not to make a big deal when I was hurt, but I think I also absorbed my mother’s fears. Lessons were dropped, and I don’t know if I was the one who said I didn’t want to continue, because mom scared me out of it; or if mom was too scared for me to continue. I think early on she was a helicopter mother before there was such a denomination; which it’s too bad she later grew into not wanting to take us kids out for sports, dance, or anything else. I have no idea how much of that might be related to her fears, but I’m sure at least some of it was her alcoholic detachment to us kids.

Another example of not making a big deal out of being hurt was when mom & I were visiting her friend Mrs. Denning, and I was out on the corner of the block. A couple boys on bicycles came tearing around the corner and rode me down. They asked if I was OK, and I said yes, through my tears, and the boys kept on going. I waited until I stopped crying, thinking that would be the only sign of trouble, but of course there were marks, and maybe a torn dress. Mom went out to find the bicyclists instead of taking me home right away.

I was a shy child, and so I developed a dry sense of humor, where I sometimes would say something true in a serious manner that adults would take as a joke; mostly because I’d more often say outlandish things in a serious manner. This, by the way, is not a regret, more something that I still appreciate about myself; even though I keep it tight under control, because it can still get me into trouble occasionally.

Briefly I took ballet lessons – one of my friends was, and somehow I was invited to join. I remember very little of it, except complaining that I had a headache, which may or may have not been the case. If so, I think it was brought on by fear – even at that age I didn’t fit in, and I seem to recall a male dance instructor who was very demanding (and maybe a bit of a prima donna?), so it was probably fear.

In grade school, I took violin lessons, but I never caught on. I was too shy to practice in front of my family, and besides, I’d wanted to take flute lessons like the girl across the street. So after the first obligatory lessons, I never took lessons until piano in high school, when I was still embarrassed to practice in front of family, but managed to become good enough that I was the bethel musician several terms for the Job’s Daughters bethel of which I was a member. Although somewhere along the way I picked up playing the recorder.

When I was very young, I used to lock myself in the downstairs powder room and sing, because I thought nobody could hear me in there. How wrong I was! Finally my mom and older brother started teasing me about singing, what was I thinking about while I was singing in the bathroom? Just singing, of course. After that I made sure nobody could hear me by locking myself into the bedroom and turning on classical music very loud. Mom never even suggested I get singing lessons – I never asked because I was really entering my pathologically shy stage by then. Being ganged up on by mom and my brother didn’t lend itself to building confidence.

So many potential talents that were cut off from fear; the one I regret most is that I never took singing lessons – as it turns out I have a pretty good voice and a good ear; and my mandolin teacher says I have perfect pitch. Secondly, I wish I’d learned to play more than just the piano, and I wish I’d carried on with the piano, too.

So often life gets in the way, and you set things aside for something that seems more important at the time; or you put things off for the same reason. Long term, sometimes the new things are more important; but you should try to find time to continue working on the skill all the same, because it may become more important to you again in the future. The trick is to make the evaluation at the time of which is currently more important, and which is long term more important. And if you’ve stopped working on it, or delayed it, and a time comes when you miss working on that skill, don’t delay. Find a way to make it work into your schedule and your budget. Just do it.

Emily Rose, I heard your mom teasingly tell you to stop dancing everywhere; but I say dance everywhere, all the time. Just do it.

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