During the school holidays I had occasion to pick up my eldest son, Biggie’s, cello and believe me when I say so much dust came off that cello case I thought it had been snowing in his bedroom. I looked at my big boy, said, ‘mate…’, and he said, ‘I know, I want to…’ Weeks later I was driving him home from a party when I asked if he’d practiced that day . He had and I said that I was sorry I wasn’t there to hear him.
‘You wouldn’t have wanted to be, Mum, I was rusty. In fact, I don’t even know if that’s my cello.’
I couldn’t stand stock still because I was driving. And I was so pissed off that I couldn’t say anything because if I did, I’d let him have it, and it would be an unpleasant monologue of words like laziness and fucker, maybe not that, and shit, man, what the heck are you doing, and how can forget what your cello looks like and if you practiced at least once in your lazy sitting on your bum existence you’d probably know your beautiful cello from another bloody cello…I kept my mouth shut and drove.
When we got home we hauled out his/somebody’s cello.
The puff can go out of your sails pretty quick when you can’t tell one cello from the next either. Not that I had one to compare it with – beautiful, shiny, in tune, so that was odd – but the cello seemed to be his. We decided it was.
‘What have we learnt here, Biggie?’ Not rhetorical and I didn’t wait, ‘don’t leave it so long that the next time you’re on it you don’t recognise it.’
My words came back to me a couple of days ago when I was on my mountain bike, Hilda. I was turning into a corner, making a hash off it, and suddenly I couldn’t remember which was the front brake. Is it the left or the right? Come on, you know this. I didn’t touch either brake and I let momentum do its job because when you’re taking a loose and dirty corner is not the time to experiment. But it was the time to realize I was as bad as Biggie.
How come we procrastinate about doing the very thing that makes out heart’s sing?
If there are places where I’m best version of myself, it’s on my bike, at my keyboard and in the arms of my loved and loving sons (at least, though I hadn’t ridden, I’d been doing the other two recently, sometimes simultaneously).
Why didn’t I ride Hilda all that time when I could have been?
And how come I was only desperate to hear the sound of her tires on the trail when my knees were stuffed and a ride was impossible?
This from someone who considers her self, ‘less than patient’. If I had a motto it would be, ‘If we’re doing it, let’s do it today while the light is still good’.
Biggie loves his cello, he’s a natural in the sense that it’s a fun and comfortable place for him, but he didn’t touch it for weeks and weeks. I think the fear about how hard it would be to get back that kept him from it.
I was, am, the same with Hilda.
I was crap on the trail.
I was as unfit as I was unskilled and I knew I would be. Remembering the great skills and fastness of earlier times, knowing that I’m not twenty-six but forty-six and to get fitness and skill back is going to require some effort, more than in the past, scared me. ‘It’s going to hurt,’ I said to myself, ‘and you’re going to look not that great in your bike gear, if you know what I mean (i know what I mean) and you’re going to get a sore bum and you could stack.’ Actually, I don’t mind a little crash now and then because it’s something to bleed home about.
Impatience is the awesome enemy of procrastination but in this case they’re in a rough codependency, a stupid symbiosis of wishing i had and not wanting to. If I ride I will get fitter, it will hurt less, my bike clothes will look better and get around the trails without having to employ my one-second-away-from-eating-it face. But I rode today and I’m not fitter. Hurry! And I rode last week so really that’s twice in five days, and my bike clothes…nothing to report. Hurry!
Still, who’d list patience as one of their favorite things? Nobody worth knowing.
Unfit, unskilled, and impatient is the new motto; it’s temporary but accurate.
But here’s the beauty part, and in life, no matter what bumps you take there is always a beauty part, it’s usually learning and not a new dress, the beauty part here is that there are whole lot of personal bests in my next-up future.
I set one today by dragging my carcass back to the trail. Plus, I rode for longer and faster than last time, evidenced by my all my near death experiences, and the sweet bruise on my right shin. Yep, too busy looking at my front wheel and not at the trail, and too busy realizing that just because you’ve seen that section on YouTube a thousand times doesn’t mean you’ve ridden it in real life so get your bloody shit together before you freaking die you unfit, silly, adorable fool.
Personal bests are ace.
And the learning is great.
Don’t let your dreams sit in the garage, the tires get flat, and don’t let your love, your art, get dusty in its cello case. If there’s a thing that’s yours do it before it becomes someone else’s. Do it. Don’t wish it. Wishes are spent prayers and not much else. Don’t procrastinate away your favourite things because it takes way too long to get them back and you can dine out for no longer than a moment on the memories of good you used to be.
hilda in her usual position of waiting
for me to get my breath back