Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Wish I Could

Do you have a, "I wish I could" list? I do. Here are a few thoughts on what I wish I could do.

1. I wish I could sew. This very basic skill used to be a run of the mill routine all women knew how to do. What happened? My sewing skills are limited to sewing on a button and cross-stitching. I can't embroider. I can't smock. I can't even sew a decent hem line. I do wish my mother had taught me how. She sews beautifully and even has a sewing machine. She was always making costumes, or hats, or curtains, or hemming my clothes, or making hair bows. My mom is very talented. I regret not taking a greater interest in her talent when I was at home.

2. I wish I could play a musical instrument. I sing very well. I used to play the piano well with practice. I never played another instrument though. In hindsight, I wish I had stopped the piano and taken up the violin. Piano was very boring to me. The discipline of it was wonderful for me and the sight reading skills I honed while playing were critical in my singing. However, I was never going to be great at it and I didn't really enjoy it beyond playing a piece to which I could sing along. I do wish I had learned an instrument. It seems like a talent people appreciate.

3. I wish I could speak another language. I used to have tolerable German. My German is rusty and my grammar has always been terrible. You would think after all the years of singing lessons I could at least read Italian. Not so. I also know a fair amount of sign language, but my signing skill is industry specific so to speak. I use it in speech therapy, but I don't interpret, I'm not that good. If I could pick a language, I think I would choose something like Russian or Arabic or Chinese. I mean, I can get around Western Europe well enough with English and my German is passable for minor forays into Eastern Europe. But if I ever wanted to be truly ambitious, I think a language with a different alphabet would be a great challenge. I have a sneaking suspicion that I am a linguist at heart even more than a speech therapist. I found that I loved studying language for language sake as well as phonetics in graduate school. It's just so darn interesting.

4. I wish I could cook well. I don't. I love to bake. Baking is easy. Plus generally, I bake for a special occasion when I want to do something nice for someone that will bring a little bit of joy to them. Sugar equals joy. Not a hard concept. But cooking requires energy and interest. There is a quality to excellent cooking that is just plain missing in my life. My meals are uninspiring and limp. I don't like to mess around in the kitchen. So my family is very happy that I choose to go to "My Family Dinners" ( plug) and schedule meal making sessions once a month. They get variety. I get simplicity and directions. We all get something worthwhile to eat.

5. I wish I was a naturally good person. I'm not. I have to work at it. I'm a lot like Laura Ingalls Wilder. She was always jealous of her sister because Mary was so sweet and pure and knew all the Bible verses all the time and she was just naturally good. Plus she had golden blonde hair that never tangled and she could wear blue. I am more like Laura. She had uninspiring brown hair, unruly temper, great imagination, and a sense of humor to go with it. Reading about older sister Mary makes me want to yell "Bitch" at frequent intervals. That's not the reaction of a naturally good person.
I am naturally at ease with people I like and I try to be kind to all everyone. But there is still a little devil inside me that is sometimes just plain mean. I gossip. I make judgments. I make jokes at others' expense (sometimes). I lose my temper frequently with stupid people. I don't have time for people who bore me, exasperate me, or otherwise drive me crazy. I can't even tell you why certain people bring out my hackles. This behavior worries me. I would like to think I am better than that, but I'm not. I'll have to try harder.
A lot of people tell me they think I'm a natural leader. I don't know about that. Natural leaders have authority. They have auras. While I might inspire on occasion, I don't find myself hankering to jump in there and lead the charge against the latest tyranny. I'd probably get into a verbal shooting match and lose my temper and then lose the cause.

6. I wish I could make the world a better place. I am trying even in my small little corner of life to make tomorrow a little better than today. You hear the phrase "think globally, act locally" bantered around a great deal. You know it's not a bad idea. What I do right here, right now is like a drop of water on a pool. If you remember that experiment from physical science class--the ripple goes to infinity because the energy is transferred from wave to wave as long as there is a medium to receive it (or something like that). What I teach my children today may have enormous affect on our world tomorrow. You just never know. So like any good Girl Scout (which I hated by the way, but that's another blog) I try to be prepared to do a good deed everyday. Random acts of kindness or even calculated ones are still acts of kindness. The Golden Rule is the best way to make the world a better place. Do unto others--hmm, that sure makes me think about number 5 some more.

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