How good are you at drawing, dancing, and singing?

As the story goes, a kindergarten teacher once posed three simple questions to her 24 curious, eager, and energetic students. She asked them to raise their hand if their answer is yes.
Q1: Do you know how to draw? Every hand in the air!
Q2: Do you know how to dance? Twenty-four skyward, no hesitation.
Q3: Do you know how to sing? It’s unanimous, once again.
Six years pass when a teacher poses these same three questions to her talented 6th graders:
Draw? 10 hands.
Dance? Just eight.
Sing? Now five.
It’s senior year, and the students are preparing for the next chapter. Same three questions:
Draw? Three hands.
Dance? Only four.
Sing: Just two.
What’s happening here?
The world is full of critics and criticism, and the judgment of peers and adults frequently overtakes the notion that, in earnest, we can do anything. Of course, we won’t be as skilled or proficient as others; that’s a given. But we can learn it, improve it, and enjoy it.
The problem comes when we stop striving, and stop believing.
Not long ago, I was teaching tennis to our granddaughter Emery, when I said, “Let’s try a few backhands.”
Her quick response, “I’m not good at backhands.”
I answered, “Not yet.”
Eight weeks passed, and her brother Vinny was front and center, swiping forehands with conviction, when I voiced the same, “Let’s try a few backhands.”
Vinny paused, took a moment, and echoed his sister, “I’m not good at backhands.”
From the bench, on courtside, Emery said loud enough for Vinny to hear, “Not yet.”
The criticism and expectations of others begin to shape our world, and too often that turns into self-criticism. “I can’t do that,” “I’m not good at this,” “I can’t learn this.”
I’m not here to argue that we’re all imbued with the same talents, experience, or brain power, but when we start listening to other voices, we often miss out on opportunities to enjoy ourselves.
Awful, not impressive, don’t ask.
Can I draw? I’m the first to say I’m awful, still drawing stick figures.
But I once watched and listened to a former colleague of mine – an art director – describe how he draws, how he thinks, and how he approaches the world. He said it’s all about seeing. He can see the shadows, he can see the shapes. For many, that skill is innate, but for the rest of us, it’s important to remember: we can learn, we can improve, and, most importantly, we can enjoy.
Can I dance? Not impressive. But I’d love to.
When you talk to an expert, when you take a class, when you have a friend who loses themselves on the dance floor, you quickly know, there’s something here.
How about singing? Oh please, don’t ask. Would lessons help? I suppose so, though I’ve never taken one.
Some refer to the human voice as an instrument, which seems to mean we can train it, we can learn how to play it. Unfortunately, I’ve placed singing in that oversized basket I call: “Things I can’t do.” At age 65, Meryl Streep learned to play the guitar for a role in “Ricki and The Flash.” At 65.
So go grab a sketch pad, cut a rug, and let your voice be heard. Let’s stop winnowing the choices: let’s expand them. Let’s find a way to become comfortable with whatever stage we are at. By attempting, by pursuing, and, most importantly, by managing our expectations, we can bring ourselves great joy.

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


Breaking News Alerts

To sign up for breaking news email alerts, Click on the email address below and put "email alerts" in the subject line:

Comment Here