In less than a week, it will be time to remeasure my waistline to see if there was progress; count the completed cross stitch projects and see if I the ten I wanted to have done are, indeed, finished; look back and see if I did 31 daily blogs; and record whether I was able to do all the FlyLady’s 31 Baby Steps, and what difference that has made. I’ll assess what difference any or all of it made in my life. This past month has also been an experiment, a training run for a possible Big, Hairy Audacious Year.
The challenge I’ve found is that as an adult it is difficult to be in the vulnerable position of learning something new, of revealing that I’m not an expert and that I’m not good at everything. Grown-ups invest a lot of emotional energy in seeming competent, so much so that we sometimes miss out on new experiences because we might not be good at them: volleyball, cross stitching, painting, playing an instrument, surfing, learning Spanish or calligraphy, or riding a unicycle. We lose patience with ourselves when we don’t get it right or do it well the first time we try it. Embarrassed by our learning curve, we choose to stay in the snug cocoon of our comfort zones and just keep doing what we’re doing the way we’ve always done it.
When I first set out to learn to play the piano as an adult, I felt awkward as I exposed my lack of skill to my piano teacher. Fortunately, my piano teacher loves to teach and was great at making me feel comfortable and willing to take the risk of learning this new thing.
I did also come to a renewed appreciation of the bravery of children who are learning all the time: reading, math, spelling, how to dribble a basketball, … they spend most of their days being vulnerable, exposing what they don’t know to teachers, parents, and coaches. How those mentors, teachers, parents, and coaches treat them will influence their life-long learning.
So now I’m facing the reality that I may not get the cross stitch projects finished in time. Do I double-down and get ‘er done, even if I have to stop doing other things? Do I quit, telling myself, “It was a stupid idea anyway”? If I don’t finish do I tell you, or do I keep it to myself? For now, I will keep going, I think. It’s tempting to give up, to not worry about meeting my audacious goal of ten projects, especially since I have the three most difficult projects left to finish. I’ll invest some hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and let you know what I decide.
This is the first Sunday of Advent in the Christian tradition. For those of you who may be interested, there is an online devotional, based on a poem by Howard Thurman, which is today’s Prayer Poem: “I Will Light Candles This Christmas” by Howard Thurman from his book The Mood of Christmas.
I will light Candles this Christmas,
Candles of joy despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all year long.
Here is the link to the devotional: pcusa.org/2020Advent.
Grace and peace,