So we have turned the corner from I am joyfully beating drums to wow, I am really not good at this. In the first class, it was expected (by me) that everyone would not be good at this, and there is freedom (for me) in not being the only person flailing about. Not to say that sometime between weeks one and three everyone else got magically awesome at taiko and I did not, but as with anything, the further you progress with an activity that requires not only skill but stamina and perseverance, the wider the gaps between how well people can do it.
Which is not to say it makes me miserable, but it certainly does not give me the rush it did initially, which is disappointing but then I get disappointed in my disappointment, because certainly everyone who was ever good at something realized how not-good they were at it first – with the natural exception of child prodigies, those jerks – and I am sad that I can’t be just a happy-go-lucky, not-good-at-this person, so I stare at my arms going off into the stratosphere instead of neatly, cleanly whacking the drum and just mourn for the abject death of the me that is awesome at taiko.
Because it is one thing to see something and want to be good at it and another thing entirely to find out that you are not good at it. The door closes; I will never be Sheila E – and I so wanted to be her for a hot minute in the ‘80s – and that is okay when I think about it in the context of doing something I am at least okay at, but so very not okay when I think about it in the context of my whole life, the one that grows shorter by the moment. I don’t want closed doors. I want to walk through any door I want. Well, not any door. There are some doors, like the me I would be as a serial killer, that I don’t want to open at all. Even though I think I’d be a nice one like Dexter. But most doors! Most doors I would like to walk through because I would like to do a lot of things before this mortal coil gets shuffled off and all.
And I really do not feel like patting myself on the back for even trying it. I know parents say that to their kids, that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose it’s how you play the game, but really? What if your kid was playing the game so badly? Singing so off-key? At what point do you say, no, it’s kind of not about playing the game and more about being at least a little good at the game with the promise of being really good at the game someday? Or do you just let your kid keep on, as long as your kid is happy and having a good time?
Is that the point? If you’re having fun, don’t let your skill-level interfere with that? That seems sensible. But you have to push through a lot of not-fun to get better at things, right? I don’t know. I don’t remember. The things I like doing I sucked at initially but I was happy anyway because I was doing the things, and that is what mattered. I have been raucously heckled at open-mic nights, and even then it didn’t occur to me to stop writing because I love to write. I have frogged nearly half a knitting project and merely chuckled about it later. Will I ever make a sweater for FunkyPlaid that I won’t be embarrassed to see him wear outside of the house? I do not know, but the not-knowing won’t stop me from trying because I love to knit.
I want to see the taiko class through because I hate not finishing things I have started, but I am not sure where that hatred comes from, and if it is a good reason to continue or if it is a pattern born of societal or familial pressures. Not that those are exclusive, but I am old enough to be doing things for my own reasoning now instead of lazily accepting how I’ve always done it.
On the shuttle to work this morning, adrift in a sea of North Face jackets and jeans and sneakers, I held onto my thermal mug of tea and marveled at how we never ever get very far from high school. The seats may be softer, but we bounce around just the same.
I have read too much about what content on the web should be. I admit to being very tired of this “should be” talk, external or internal. I would take a side, but taking a side means there are sides to take. We can argue about who is doing it better, whose content is more important, but how does that work, exactly? Are journal entries less important than reviews of iPhone apps? Who decides this, and why?
My first taiko class taught me something I forgot: be still, eyes open, and embrace the lack of knowledge. There was lots of joyful drum-pounding, too, of course. But the most enjoyable aspect of it all was not knowing anything about it, absorbing, failing, and learning. The new job is like this too, albeit with less failure yet because mentors are ever-present.
Waking at six in the morning, I always feel a little drunk. The house is dark and the cats snuggle in closer to the other human and the walls and floor seem to shift as my eyes adjust or don’t. Characters from bad dreams slouch around the corners, smirk at my stumbles. I see the shade of you in the black hallway, and I cannot tell if you are walking toward me or away.