Monday, September 07, 2015

Up to a point

If one's fifties is the decade of regret, the sixties seem to be the age of reflection. At least, that is what I have been doing lately when not involved in this, that, or the other thing.

One thread of musing has gone along like this: How come I never became really good at something? I recall reading articles as a teenager where the author insisted that everyone is good at something, you just have to find out what that is. I don't remember being particularly encouraged by anyone, so blamed "them" for that. Then I wondered if maybe no one saw anything in me worth encouraging. Hmmm.

After I brief respite from that topic, I returned to it from another angle: what was I good at, and what happened along the way? In high school, I was very good at math, loved plane and solid geometry and trig. But then something happened in college when I hit calculus. I never quite understood calc, nor the higher math classes I took while pursuing my computer science degree. So maybe I was good at math, but only up to a point.

Speaking of computer science, I loved designing and writing software and believed I was good at that. But then along came a paradigm shift, from procedural programming to object oriented and event driven software. I understood both at an abstract level, but my OO efforts still looked like procedural code. My brain just did not want to make the shift. So I was good at software development, but only up to a point.

What else? I was good at sports when we lived in Illinois, but the competition was sparse because back in the dark ages, there were no interscholastic team sports for girls in that state. We moved to Massachusetts my senior year, where they were more enlightened and I was less good compared with the others. Not to be deterred, in college I tried out for volleyball and sprained both my thumbs the first day of practice. After that, I stuck to intramural sports. As an adult, I did continue to play tennis, teaching my son until he surpassed me. I also played in a parks and rec league, until I got tired of losing all the time. Now I play golf, and even though my form is good, the results are inconsistent. Again, I'm good, but only up to a point.

I'm a good gardener, up to a point. I'm a good knitter, up to a point. I'm a good cook, up to a point.

What is this point I reach where my talents don't develop further? Maybe I get bored easily and don't stick with something long enough to become better. Maybe I am lazy, just don't want to put the work into becoming better. Or it could be I am simply average (HORRORS!)

That is when it is helpful to remember, We don't all have to shine.

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