Monday, December 10, 2012


Did I tell you I'm taking archery lessons? Or at least I was, but now that the actual lessons have ended, I go practice shooting bows and arrows once a week.  The thing is, I'm not very good at it.  I mean, I could probably become good at it one day if I practiced enough, but right now I'm objectively terrible.  Let's just say, if my being good at archery mattered in the least, I would have died in battle months ago.

Luckily, it doesn't matter.  Which has made me realize something: as an adult, I'm very rarely asked to do anything that tests the limits of my sense of humor about myself.  I think very few of us are.

Like when was the last time you were asked to draw a picture?  Grownups haaaate drawing pictures because objects rendered by adults who haven't tried to draw anything since 5th grade tend to look bad.  My friend Eleanor (who is a very good drawer) says this is because drawing is full of tricks--if you know all the tricks and practice them, you'll be a just fine drawer.

But it seems to me, being good at it isn't really the point.  I think we all probably put too much emphasis on mastery--immediate mastery--of skills that nobody has any business mastering in less than like 20 years.

So, what do you do while you're still bad at something?  Well, I guess you could do it for the sake of doing it, just because it's kind of fun.  That's probably okay, right?

Look at little kids: they draw all the time, and their drawings are fucking rotten.  Like here's Odessa's self portrait from last week:

Adorable? Yes. Does it look anything like her? No. Does she give a shit? Not at all.

My shooting an arrow at a target looks a lot like Odessa's self portrait: the best one can say about it is it  might be adorable to a bystander. 

But then sometimes I can really, honestly convince myself that ability doesn't matter: it's fun to do, so I do it whether or not I can hit the broad side of a barn from a distance of 20 feet.

But. BUT!

Then last week, Bryan started taking archery lessons too.  And of course he's really good at it because he's good at everything that involves hitting something with another thing.   Bowling, splitting wood,  throwing baseballs, archery.

And this is where it gets tough, because now archery requires not only patience and humility, but something else.   Graciousness? Good sportsmanship?  Things I pride myself on having an adequate supply of.  I'm not usually a very competitive person, but when it comes to Bryan, I want to CRUSH.  

We're both oldest children.  It's a problem.  Need to work on it.  

And NOW I have the opportunity. Wish me luck.

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