Next Time

The biggest revelation I’ve had lately is that I really just wanted to be a ski bum. There was no indication of that EVER in my life, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I see the truth in it.

We get shoved in all kinds of directions in our lives. If we’re a little more intelligent than average, we’re “college bound.” If we’re a little more responsible than average, we get to “look after your little brother.” If we have talent, we need to “do something with it.” That summarizes my non-ski bum life. And then there’s gender. “Kaitlyn” Jenner? What an idiot. The advantages in this world of being male are really off the charts and at HIS time (and mine)? Oh Honey. Don’t get me started.

I wonder how many of us grew up to be something different from our basic nature. When I was a kid, and was allowed to run and play (I’d had rheumatic fever so for a few years of my childhood, I was kept pretty quiet), I did it with a vengeance. I practiced baseball alone in my backyard for hours every day — throwing the ball up, hitting it and chasing after it. I loved the game. I loved running, hurdles, and high jumping. I loved riding my bike. I loved going as fast as I could go everywhere. I loved sledding narrow paths with sharp curves. I ran a 59 second quarter mile when I was 13.

Even after I grew up, I never stopped moving. For years I ran the dusty trails of a San Diego urban wilderness park. On mountain bike rides I’d cruise down a hill thinking, “This is like skiing!”

I don’t think my nurturers, well, the dominant, female nurturer, anyway, ever looked up to see what her daughter was actually doing. I think parents need to pay attention to what their children DO on their own time of their own free will and if it’s a good thing, they should get behind it. When I was a kid, there were few opportunities for girls in sports, anyway. I don’t think most parents commonly saw it as a direction for their daughters other than, maybe, gymnastics or figure skating. I ended up kind of lost inside and not fitting in outside. My whole career — which I loved — I had the feeling I was out of place. If I’d paid attention, there were many junctions in my life when I could have changed course.

I’m not whining or blaming my parents. My life has also had lots of circumstances that I could not have turned away from easily and also made it difficult for me to see exactly what I did love. But next time, I’m paying better attention. 🙂

6 thoughts on “Next Time

  1. Way before “gifted” programs existed my (much) older brother and I were put through a series of tests and pronounced “genius level.” Upon hearing the results, my mother turned to me and pronounced “David is the REAL smart one,” despite our test scores being identical. We are products of our time and place…

    • Exactly the same story in my family. “You’re not that smart. Your brother is the truly smart one.” I am pretty sure our scores were close if not the same. I get it now; she was getting me ready for wifedom and motherhood. We are definitely products of our time and place. I was such a good ball player — and all around athlete — that though I couldn’t play on my brother’s baseball team, the coach said, “Get Kennedy’s sister in here to hit balls for fielding practice.” We are certainly the products of our time and place AND the time and place our parents believe will last forever.

  2. I just did everything that was expected of me, but mum and dad just let me get on with it. No pronounced encouragements, or do you homework. I did it in any case, but to be quite honest I would have appreciated some interest being taken in what I was doing. They did not see to realise that it was part of growin up to be told. Others would be glad to have no moaning from the partents, I missed it a little.

    • Yeah. My mom never praised me for anything except cleaning the kitchen. My dad encouraged me in anything I did, but by the time I was at the point of making decisions and taking direction in my life, he was pretty much out of the picture. Now I think back on his advice and realize he was completely right. I didn’t follow it.

  3. I guess I was lucky. I wanted to be a writer. I became a writer. Not quite the writer I expected to be, but someone who earned a decent living writing. In our generations, that was pretty good.

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