Day 23,719: Scaling Down Expectations.
Sometimes life can just too serious. Certainly there are times when life is serious, but I’m talking about the times life doesn’t have to be all that serious – those times when so called experts just suck all the fun out of something. I have two examples.
Example One: The German Piano Teacher.
At some young age I started piano lessons with the young American woman down the street. She was likely only in her twenties but since I was maybe six she was quite adult to me. She was pretty, fun and made music fun. We played some fun light pieces, laughed and I learned to love the piano. She was someone I would not have minded growing up to be like. Then a sad day came when she told my mother that I had outgrown her. There was nothing more she could teach me.
Let’s be clear here. I was not a child prodigy. If I outgrew her, it meant only that she was probably younger than I ever imagined, was perhaps tired of teaching, and was just a good enough piano player herself. To teach me, she just had to be better than me, and she was.
My mother probably hired her because A. She was affordable B. She was close and I could walk the half block there by myself and C. She was watching me for the hour to give my mother a break. The piano playing was all beside the point. Of course, I never really asked my mother, but I am well schooled in how my mother puzzled out situations so the A.B.C. scenario rings true.
She now had to solve the next problem of how to move me along in my piano studies. She turned, as she always did, to the store customers. Lo and behold one customer was a very serious piano teacher – concentrating on classics only and requiring attentive practicing by her students. My mother thought it was a great privilege to be accepted as a student, but from the beginning she advised my parents that I was not talented and was probably not good enough for her attention. Still, I was given a chance and hated every minute of it. Piano became too serious. It was no longer fun. I lasted with this serious European teacher for at most two years before convincing all it was time to quit. The only one who didn’t argue with me was the teacher.
Example Two: The Russian Gymnast
A similar incident happened with my own daughter at a younger age. She was 4 or 5 and excelled at gymnastics. She had a wonderful American teacher who made jumping and swinging fun. My daughter excelled at it and loved it. I sent her to gymnastics to keep her busy, meet other pre-schoolers, get the sillies out, and have fun exercise. Then, it got too serious.
The gymnastics senior instructor took me aside and said my daughter showed promise and talent. They wanted to move her to another class with different kids and more importantly, a serious Russian instructor. If my daughter was to have any career in gymnastics at all, she needed to make the transition now. We said, “no.”
My daughter loved her class, fellow bouncers, and teacher. She wanted to stay where she was. The gym said, “no.” That class would be changed and she wouldn’t qualify for it. The only choice was to move up. Instead, we moved out and started at another gym. Soon thereafter, we gave up gymnastics altogether. The fun had been taken out of it.
There are people who are child prodigies, but most children just want to play and have fun. Most parents just want their kids gainfully occupied to stay out of trouble. That’s the long and short of most extracurriculars.
Somewhere along the way, too many of us have become too serious about too many things that could just be nice hobbies. Instead, we feel we have to be wine aficionados instead of fun wine sippers, or movie trivia buffs instead of just liking to be entertained, or gourmet cooks instead of sloppy cake bakers.
In my Crone years, I may treat myself to some wholesome mediocrity. I’m going to pick a hobby for the helluvit and dabble in enjoying rather than dedicating myself to excelling at whatever it is. After years of training, it won’t be easy, but I’m going to give less than the old college try.
Daily Focus on Gun Sanity: Stat for the day- According to CNN, “The US makes up less than 5% of the world’s population, but holds 31% of global mass shooters.”