Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ducks and Other Noisy Distractions by Jo Robertson

I was looking at some pictures of my granddaughter the other day. Her family took a trip to Apple Hill, a beautiful place in the fall, where there’s a small fishing pond for children to play. Ducks surround the water and shore area.

Initially the ducks fascinate Annie. She has no frame of reference to fear them. They look harmless enough. Pretty, too, with their white feathers and long noses. Mommy whispers those noses are called beaks.

Annie reaches for one. It quacks or makes whatever frightening sound ducks make, startling her. She backs away, crying. But, an hour later, with a little coaxing, and having become accustomed to them, their peculiar sound and smell, she inches forward. By the end of the day Annie’s decides ducks are pretty cool.

Myself, I’m not the adventurous sort. I never cut class in high school. Really. I never sneaked out of the house at night. I never drove my dad’s car without permission. I never tried drugs in college even though it was the height of the hippie era. I avoided the deep end of the pool. Like the words of that Carrie Underwood song – I didn’t stray too far from the sidewalk.

There’s something wise and smart and cautious about not taking risks. Risk-takers often end up getting hurt. Or hurting other people.
I wanted to be a professional singer. After I was graduated from high school at seventeen, I worked for the U.S. Government for eighteen months before college, lived at home, had a little extra money, and wanted so, so badly to take voice lessons from a professional instructor.
But I was chicken. I wouldn’t take the chance. I was afraid to risk embarrassment. As a result I didn’t sing my first solo until I was thirty-two in a small church in Jerusalem. The song was something about lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness and very muscle in my body quaked like an aftershock, but not my voice. My voice was clear and smooth. But you see, I could have done that at age seventeen instead of thirty-two.

I know a lot of writers who never submit their work. Ironic, huh? That’s like a singer who won’t sing in the shower or a dancer who doesn’t tap his foot to the beat of the drum. But it’s true. Their convoluted logic is that if they don’t submit their work, they won’t face rejection.

There’s a concept that the more we do something, the easier it becomes to do. The task doesn’t become easier, just our ability to accomplish it.

The question today is: What have you learned to do that got easier with the doing of it? Come on, share those stories, folks. We writers get our inspiration and our perseverance from them!