Here & there: It’s OK if you’re not always awesome

Stock image, St. George News

FEATURE — Recently, a longtime friend who lives in the Bay Area asked for an update on my boys. I had this to report: boy 3 hates the piano; boy 2 hates the 6th grade; and boy 1, who is 15, regularly says he hates everything.

Except for the word “swag.” If his usage of that word is any indication, he opposite of hates it. Don’t ask me what it – or “Gucci” as an adjective, or “sauce” as a verb, or “quirky” as a physical compliment – really means. I just know what I hear.

But back to my boys hating everything.

I’m trying not to take it too personally. And I keep reminding myself that, despite what the teenager says, they don’t really hate everything.

They like to ski as evidenced by the vigorous “whoo-hoo” that spontaneously erupted from my youngest’s mouth last time we were on the mountain making fresh tracks. They like to eat good food as evidenced by all the happy kitchen sounds and our chronically depleted pantry. They like to get licked by the family dog. No evidence needed for that one.

I’ll admit, however, that they do “hate” plenty of things. And most of those things require effort: matching stray socks, playing their instruments, shoveling dog poop in the backyard, homework and yes, even the 6th grade.

It’s not just the effort, though. Most of the things they claim to hate also require active learning. Except the stray sock matching. That’s just tedium.

Yes, active learning is really at the heart of their professed hate.

Not because my kids don’t like to learn new stuff (they do), but because active learning can be so uncomfortable: you’re stretched, you’re pulled, your brain can literally hurt from thinking so hard.

If I didn’t remember that from before, I remember it now.

Two weeks ago, I began the process of getting my 200 HR yoga teacher certification. No big deal, right? It’s just yoga. And I know yoga.

Until I got my reading list, my “Omm” Work (see what they did there?), the class schedule of eight consecutive all-day Saturday sessions and eight consecutive weekly night sessions, the cadaver lab and the sixty hours of personal yoga practice required.

Following that first all-day Saturday session and its lengthy talk of proper body alignment, cuing position changes and the philosophies behind the practice of yoga, with words in Sanskrit like “samadhi,” “niyama” and “pratyahara,” all I could do was take a nap.

The next morning, I awoke with a headache – and feelings of inadequacy. Will I be able to do this – learn this new thing in my 40s? And then, if I learn it, will I be any good at teaching it?

Enter my new friend, a visiting professor of poetry at the university near my home.

Before coming to Utah for the semester, my friend taught for many years at MIT and then at Penn State. She has published seven books of poetry, takes sea-kayaking adventure trips in the Caribbean with her friends and she drives cross-country in the middle of December to teach in Utah.

But officially, she’s retired.

When she retired three years ago, she also decided to pick up the violin. The reason? “I didn’t want to be the expert anymore,” she explained. “I didn’t want to be the one who had the answers, who graded the papers, the one who taught the things.”

She wanted to be the one who was learning. She knew she’d never be a master. But that wasn’t the point.

Author Ray Bradbury once said, “life is ‘trying new things to see if they work.’”

While my boys may say they hate the piano, the 6th grade and the teenage “everything,” they keep trying new things. Even if it’s mostly because their mom makes them.

Who knows? Maybe the underlying message will eventually stick.

Maybe they’ll sign up for a yoga teacher training at 41 even if they aren’t sure they’ll be any good. Or maybe when they’re in their mid-60s they’ll pick up a new instrument even though they’ll never be a master.

A mom can only hope.

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