25 January 2011
This month I am trying something new.
My three oldest kids are taking skiing lessons and I have decided to join them.
Until now I have never learned to ski and I have lived near ski hills most of my life.
I have been trying to overcome a bad habit of mine.
As long as I can remember if I haven't been able to do something well I have not wanted to do it. Hence, I have never participated in sports (other than in school when I had to or else take an F in P.E. which was unacceptable to me). Until recently I never did anything artistic. In fact I didn't do much of anything.
I don't know how to swim.
I don't know how to ride a bike.
I don't know how to play a musical instrument.
I don't know how to ski.
I don't know how to sing.
I don't know how to skate.
When I was in grade one my class went ice skating. I was so excited. I couldn't wait to get on the ice and do a sit spin and of course I couldn't wait to wear one of those really cute little skating costumes with the little twirly skirt...which of course I did not get to wear and when I stepped onto the ice for the first time... I immediately fell. I was mortified. Particularly when my teacher brought me a little cage to hold onto so I could at least stand. That was the moment I realized how inadequate I was. That was when I realized that I could not do everything I thought I could. I never skated again.
Yes, this has been one of my greatest weaknesses. And I do realize how ridiculous it sounds. But, I have always had a strong desire to be perfect...to live a perfect life. For a long time I tried to avoid living the life I wanted because I knew that the reality would not live up to my expectations. Instead I ended up living a life that was pretty boring. I did do some things, but I was generally not satisfied with the outcomes and I was still too afraid to try anything that required skill. I learned how to cook out of necessity when I got married and I discovered that I was pretty good at it. So, I continued to practice and got annoyed with myself whenever things didn't turn out perfectly.
Around the time I turned thirty I decided that I needed to change. There were so many things that I would have liked to have done in my youth that I didn't do. I did not want to waste my life. So I started to do things. I took a few painting classes and discovered that I really enjoyed painting and was so happy when my paintings were recognizable. They actually looked like something...people actually hung them on their walls!!! I was a little embarrassed still as I could notice all the mistakes, but they were better than I thought they would be.
I went back to school. I no longer felt like a failure to still be in school when I was over thirty. ( I always thought I'd have a PhD by then). I am taking longer than the average student. But I love it.
I few years ago I finally realized that I didn't need perfection. I could be happy with progress. Improvement was something to be proud of. I didn't need to be top of the class (or somewhere just slightly above average which previously was okay with me as long as I hadn't put in any effort. Above average with no effort was just as okay as perfection with little effort).
I no longer wanted to be content with who I was. I wanted to be happy about the person I was becoming.
And so this week as I conquered the kiddie run up at the ski hill I was almost giddy with happiness...
Happy because I was finally learning to ski and that I had learned to snow plow and because on my first attempt I fell but I got up and tried again and by the end of the day I had figured out how to stay standing, moving and even turning and I was excited about my progress!
Externally as well as internally.
I am so happy that I have figured out that the way to true happiness and finding joy is to keep moving forward...
even if I am only taking baby steps.