Jul 20, 2009

Twirling for the Joy of It

It’s important for one to know one’s limitations. There is something to be said for perseverance but at some point perseverance becomes an exercise in futility. You end up pounding your head against a door that will never open to you. My grandmother introduced me to this concept at a very young age.

When I was eight I wanted to be a ballerina. I thought I was the best spinner in the world. Of course, socks and a shiny, slick linoleum floor helped augment my natural, God given abilities. My grandmother saw me spinning one day and asked me what I was doing. I told her I was practicing my pirouettes because I wanted to join the NYC Ballet. She unsuccessfully stifled a chuckle. I come from a long line of pragmatists, both sides of the family. They may appear cold hearted but they really do have your best interest at heart.

Even at eight years of age it was probably clear that I was going to be very tall and anything but petite. My grandmother could have let me live the dream a little longer, but she chose to clue me in. She calmly informed me that I probably was not the right body type to be a ballerina. You may think it was mean of her to tell me that but it really didn’t faze me that much. I still pirouetted, but just for the joy of it. From that day forward I harbored no illusions about my ability to become a ballerina.

It's important to know what you can and can't do. I know and accept the following limitations and weaknesses:

I can not dance. I know we covered that above but I’m talking about any kind of dancing. It takes an extreme amount of alcohol to get me up on a dance floor. You’ve seen Elaine dancing on Seinfeld? Not quite that bad, but awfully close.

I do not have a green thumb. Any plant brought into my house is doomed. Some have lasted quite some time, years even, but in the end I manage to kill them all. It doesn’t stop me though. Buying plants becomes sort of like a risk/benefit analysis. How long will it live vs. how much does it cost?

I am a procrastinator. I put things off until the last possible minute. It’s almost like I need that extra pressure of a looming deadline to motivate me into action. I do my best work in the eleventh hour.

I am a know-it-all. This was a result of being the oldest kid in an extended family and always trying to get the adult’s attention. They liked precociousness and jokes. But what plays well to a room full of adults doesn’t work nearly as well with your peers. As I grew I learned to tone this down but it makes me an obnoxious Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble player. I will, however, kick your ass. See, I’m insufferable.

The benefits of knowing the above (and many other things I didn’t list) are two fold. I can adjust and compensate where necessary. I can concentrate on areas that are my strengths. Oh, I know all about the success stories but, truth be told, they are few and far between. Rudy did play for Notre Dame but for about one minute. Maybe Rudy missed out on the opportunity to be part of the marching band or the debate team because he was so busy chasing after that football dream. I think finding a match between your strengths and your desires makes for a much easier road. Does that sound cynical? Fatalistic? Well, I always reserve the right to feel completely different about the whole thing tomorrow.


  1. Wow, thats how I think. I have different things I do well and don't do well and going to the nuns in primary soon got rid of any illusions I may have had...for folk like me that works as with you...others get all hurties... I can't dance much at all but I love music with a passion...still can't listen to most of it because it still makes me cry...maybe in a few years.

  2. Excellent post. Too many people sit ans spin their wheels never heading in the right direction. Sounds like you figured things out early and made good choices.

    I wish everybody could be like you. Of course I have the same mind set. My family just lets me be boss, they have given up. I have finally met my challenge though. My 3 year old granddaughter is just like me. I think we are in for some battles ahead.

  3. I love that you are also a cut-throat Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble player, me too! Yet, i am in fact a dancer, but had to put that on the back burner when my knees couldn't keep up with the pain dancing inflicts. You're better off emulating Elaine, it's far more fun and amusing for the rest of us ;)


  4. I always wanted to paint ballerinas like Degas,but every time I put brush to canvas,the whole thing ends up turning brown.
    Still,there are some few things I do well,but not well enough to earn a living at.
    So I call them hobbies and am quite pleased with myself.

  5. MC - Nunbs are very practical people I hear. And not afraid to clue people in on what's what. With a little bit of help from a ruler once in awhile.

    Rae - Bossiness is a strength. Cultivate that in your granddaughter. Sounds like she has a good mentor.

    Kate - I hear they have Facebook scrabble now. I am trying to get my family to play remotely with me but no luck so far. I theorize that they are just tired of being beaten.

    Sling - At one point I toyed with the idea of playing tournament Scrabble. I read the book "Word Freak" and was convinced I could make a go of it. Alas, Scrabble is now just a hobby.

  6. This was a great post! :) I tend to agree with you--but I also think we cannot sell ourselves short because we think we *might* not be able to do something.

    Anyway, I had to LAUGH at your Elaine from Seinfeld dance comment! LOL! I so feel like that sometime. You & I should find a way to get together, get really drunk, and go dancing! *hee hee*