Friday, December 10, 2010

on talents



and after four minutes
of watching that awe-inspiring grace
pouring out of their every kick, leap and twirl,
i leaned over to him
shaking my head and said,
aren't they amazing?
he smiled,
and then a few seconds later said,
your pancakes are amazing.

* * *

it was just a few years back
that i sat in the bolshoi theatre
staring down from the balcony
at a similar sight--
what i don't hesitate to say
were some of the best ballerinas in the world.
and as i sat and admired
their every perfect move
my mind started reeling
about those ballerinas and who they were
off the stage.
their lives had been dedicated to dance
since primary school.
their bodies were sacred,
given over wholly to their career
and maintaining their ability.
their inevitable dedication,
their obvious passion,
their raw talent. . .

who were they?
what were they like?
were they perfect in just one thing?
average in everything else?
were they pleased
with where their endless labor had taken them
thus far?
what had they had to sacrifice?
what did the future hold?
were any of them like me in any way?
were any of them mothers?
could i ever have been like them?
with any of my talents?

and i began to think
about what i had been given.
those things that are sometimes called
talents.
those things that i sometimes wonder
if perhaps have been buried.
i began to wonder
about that dusty guitar.
the paints that hadn't seen the light of day
in years.
the sewing machine that lay in storage.
the piano, the knitting needles,
the calligraphy pens, the jewelry supplies,
the sketchpads, the choral sheet music,
the pilates mat, the quilter's hoops. . .

were they buried?
buried by the burden of being a mother?
by the inexorable sacrifice
that giving a soul life
followed by another
and then another
mandates?
by the inescapable phenomenon
that any time that might be deemed personal
slips further and further away from me
with each passing year
like that sandy beach
that watches the ocean water
slip quietly away at low tide?

and as my mind began to wonder
why,
why i was given any hint of talents
if i never did make of myself
a professional ballerina,
or
never even have the time anymore
to pull out the paints
or sing in the choir
or dust off my sewing machine. . .
why have them?

and it was then
that my mind turned a corner
right there on the balcony
of the bolshoi theatre
staring down at those
who had used their talents quite differently,
that i began to think
that all those things
that have become dusty and rusty over the years
perhaps aren't the most important of talents.
perhaps now is my season
to uncover and awaken
a whole different package--
one including
compassion
nurturing
determination
selflessness
stamina
faith
wisdom
and the ever-elusive patience,
among plenty of others.

surely these are also talents.
and most certainly
i have lifetimes of labor ahead
in each of these areas.
and without a doubt
it is these things
that will make me a much fuller person,
and give me a much richer character
than being able to play that gigue well.

and so
during these years of low tide,
i hope i can use my time differently.
i hope i can take better advantage
of that school that mothering is--
to whittle away at all those imperfections,
to practice daily,
to hone those characteristics,
and to focus on those talents
that matter much, much more.