I’m so bad at that…and that…and that…

Every year, I like to take a class in something that sounds like fun, but that I know I’ll find impossible to master. A couple of years ago, it was pottery. The first time I tried throwing on a wheel, I made the most perfectly round bowl. Everyone oohed and aahed and I couldn’t help but wonder what everyone found so difficult. When I tried again, I wasn’t so successful and the “bowl” collapsed into a heap; in fact I couldn’t replicate anything resembling a bowl again and was only ever able to make imperfect, wobbly objects covered in layers of sparkly glaze to distract the viewer. I love their handmade quality though, even if they look like something a first grader would bring home.

Last year, I tried watercolor painting. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. I just couldn’t get it. The instructor, who had an intimidating Russian accent, barked directions at me that were useless: “You yust have to veel it,” he’d say. Yeah, what I needed was more instruction. How much water am I supposed to splash around here? And oh, how do I draw things? He was a terrible teacher, but then I was a poor student.

This month, it’s hand drumming. I’m not at all musical, so I thought this would be the perfect complement to pottery and painting. At least I’d get to beat something. Turns out, I’m a terrible drummer too. Simple rhythms we’re meant to memorize and play repeatedly elude me. I’ll be fine for a turn or too and then things fall apart and I feel like I’m learning Russian, which would have been helpful in say, my watercolor class, but is useless when learning African rhythms. 


Drumming on a djembe

Drumming on a djembe


Despite my failures, the subjects are fun, and I’m a firm believer that trying things we might not be good at is a healthy endeavor. Sure, it makes you feel inadequate, but it opens you up in some strange way and makes you remember what it’s like to learn something, to struggle. A little humility is a good thing.


One thought on “I’m so bad at that…and that…and that…

  1. Pingback: Say yes « Musings at a picnic

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