Sunday, February 5, 2012

Passion and Mediocrity

Bike & Skate
Prior to my interest in bicycles, I seldom seriously pursued activities that I wasn't good at. Mostly this was because I did not enjoy them. I always hated mathematics, chemistry and physics in school - subjects I was bad at, while I loved literature, history and art - subjects I was good at. Playing most sports was living hell, whereas performing in plays was exhilarating. Once in a while it would happen that I was good at something, but did not enjoy it: chess, tennis, leadership roles, jobs involving sales. But it almost never happened that I enjoyed something I was bad at. Doing something that we cannot do well is discouraging, embarrassing, and literally painful in the case of sports. Even if we like the idea of the activity, it is difficult to enjoy actually performing it, when all it does is highlight our weaknesses and make us experience failure again and again.

As a teenager I fell in love with Chopin, and got it into my head that I had to learn how to play piano or life was not worth living. So I learned. For a late starter (I began at age 15), I wasn't bad. My teacher said that my ability to communicate emotion was ahead of my technique - which she meant as encouragement, since in her view the emotional part was more difficult. But I was terribly disappointed in myself. The more I practiced, the more aware I became of my technical limitations. I was sloppy, my fingers were not flexible enough, and I could not grasp music theory. For my 2nd year recital my teacher agreed to help me prepare two beautiful pieces that I had no business playing: Chopin's Prelude in E-minor and Tschaikovsky's Autumn. As far as "serious" music, these pieces are not difficult. But still to play them well required experience I did not have. I made no blatant mistakes. But I just didn't have sufficient control over my hands for the more nuanced passages and as I played in the recital I felt this acutely. The parents in the audience were thoroughly impressed by my performance. But after the recital one of the guest instructors approached and shook his finger at me: "Young lady, that was beautiful. But you should not be playing those pieces until your technique improves." And as he spoke, I knew that I did not have it in me: that I would never improve beyond mediocrity and would never be truly good enough for these pieces, no matter how much I slaved over the keyboard. I could use my ability to play "emotionally" to mask poor technique, but I would feel like a fraud. It was painful to be aware of this and my personality was not strong enough to withstand it. I quit piano within a year and took this as a lesson to save my energy for things I could truly excel at. Piano would never be one of them.

Skating Rink
And, of course, neither would skating. No matter how much I loved watching the figure skaters on television and wished to be one of them in my younger years, it seemed stupid to waste my time to pursue something where my natural ability was so far below average. Yet now something's changed, and I find myself putting my self-esteem to the test at local skating rinks - shuffling around like an injured duckling as others around me execute graceful spins, jumps, and other displays of skill. The Co-Habitant tried to skate a week ago, and turned out to be a natural. Others too get on the ice for the first time in their lives, and after a half hour they are already gliding easily. Clearly I am a special case of ineptitude when it comes to skating. I am trying to decide how this makes me feel, and oddly it's not too bad. I am not even embarrassed, I just accept it. I also accept that even if I throw myself into learning how to skate with an obsessive passion, the end result of my dedication and hard work will be mediocrity, at best. Maybe I am older now and my ego can take it, because knowing this feels okay: I want to learn how to glide smoothly, how to turn, and how to stop without falling, and maybe if I am lucky, to eventually execute a leg lift like the girl in the picture. Those are my meager aspirations, and somehow they seem worthwhile despite the fact that I will likely have to work 10 times as hard as "normal" people to achieve them. 

Watching the figure skaters practice at the Skating Club of Boston reminds me of my first visit to the Velodrome in Vienna. Seeing how unattainable the track cyclists' level of skill was for someone like me did not put me off road and fixed gear cycling. I realised then that I saw value in pursuing cycling as a sport independent of my ability to succeed in it. It was good for my character to have to work hard at something I loved, even if it yielded disappointing results, rather than to accept praise for being "talented" at things I was naturally good at. Talent, after all, is not an achievement - it is simply there. 

Bike & Skate
My pursuit of cycling over the past 3 years - starting from a place where I didn't know how to turn other than using the handlebars and needed to have both feet flat on the ground while in the saddle - has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. This may seem ludicrous to those who know me in person in light of my other "achievements" and life experiences. Nevertheless, my passion for this activity that I am at best mediocre at, has taught me more about myself than I probably wanted to know. It broke down some of my defenses that kept me from understanding my true goals in life and it has made me more comfortable with myself overall.

It is hard to say whether, generally speaking, there is value in pursuing things we are bad at. Sure, we can make the argument that facing one's limitations and attempting to work through them - whether successfully or not - builds character. But we can also make the argument that it is more worthwhile to pursue the things we are good at, in the hopes of achieving true excellence - which could benefit not only ourselves, but in some cases society as a whole. In the end it is about the individual's life journey. During mine I found that passion and mediocrity can co-exist.  

52 comments:

  1. Writing is something that you obviously excel in.

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  2. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if my parents had had the cash/time to keep in ballet after I was twelve. I'd been doing it for three years (at a very amateur studio, but I did get solos in our tiny Nutcracker productions) and lived and breathed dancing, but there was just no way my parents could afford it. I was heartbroken about it for years. And when, as an adult, I tried taking ballet, I discovered that if I was talented at it then, I certainly wasn't now, and it was of course far too late to do it professionally...so I quit.

    I know you're going to get a lot of people saying, "oh, what are you talking about, I'm sure you're good at cycling," and I hate to be part of that chorus, but still: How often have you fallen off your bike? 'Cause I average twice a year. Most of my falls have just been enough to embarrass me, a few ripped clothing and caused a lot of bleeding, and one sent me to the hospital for five days. And I've been biking as my primary source of transportation since 2007! I'm also still a very cautious descender. And goddammit, I refuse to stop cycling.

    It's cool that you had all those opportunities to try different things. A lot of people aren't so lucky.

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  3. So...which skates did you get and were they helpful at Skater's Landing?

    I think that one of the most beautiful things about being an adult is the freedom to engage in an activity that one will never perfect just for the joy of it.

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    1. I got the Riedell 115 skates, which is a decent beginner model - good for up to basic jumps - so more than sufficient for me. The shop was helpful. They heated up the skates so that they molded to my feet, sharpened the blades and gave advice on upkeep. The skates feel great, no complaints. For anyone shopping for skates, I recommend very strongly buying in person and not online. The different brands are shaped differently and one might fit your foot better than another. I came in thinking I wanted a Jackson model, but Riedell fitted my foot a lot better. Skate sizing is also different from shoe sizing, so be aware.

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  4. I love this blog so much. And I really like this post. Abandoning an instrument you can play beautifully but not technically perfect I find very sad. I really can't stand *that* side of the music world. Instinctively makes me turn to progressive and underground music where beauty and self expression are more highly valued (though it does of course have other inherent issues.)

    Anyway, AGAIN you are making me incredibly curious about your "real" life!

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  5. What a lovely, ego-less post (not that your posts are usually ego-full!).
    I think that perhaps it's age (and experience) that finally allow us to drop some of our fears ("I'll never be any good at this anyway, even though I enjoy it, so why bother?" or "I'll look like a fool"). Letting go of that mindset is so liberating! And does it really matter if you aren't "good" at it if it makes you happy? As for the "looking like a fool" part: that's all way too subjective (not to mention nonsense). Life's too short. Do what you love!

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  6. I restarted piano lessons in my 30s, and now ten years later, I'm still gloriously mediocre. I've sometimes thought to quit, but there is more to most activities than their mastery alone. Piano and cycling open up new horizons, new frontiers, and can be enjoyed as a social endeavor if one wants. How fun it is to find, say, a violist of a similar level and play together, or go for a ride with a group of like-minded cyclists?! Mostly, the pursuit is enough, for even the best will tell you that competence is a series of lemmas.

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  7. I love to read what you write. You have a disarming way of describing yourself & your situations without seeming self-centered. You speak of emotions without making me feel that I need to "fix" it for you, or even give you advice. Like listening to a friend. Carry on.

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  8. It seems to be a tendency of Western culture to expect people to be good at those things they enjoy doing. When people learn that I enjoy cycling they invariably ask, how fast, how far and do you compete? When people see my guitar hanging on the wall, they ask, do you play, before asking to hear a song. I can ride a bicycle a lot better than I play the guitar, but I enjoy both immensely. Doing what you enjoy should not be a guilty pleasure or have to be validated through the approval of others.

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  9. I think it is a good thing that you are willing to do things that you don't excel in but enjoy. While people sometimes have talent for something, or they simply have a suitable body for a certain type of activity, in most cases getting good at something is very much a question of putting in enough hours and using those hours in as optimal a way as possible. Optimal both in the sense of keeping up enjoyment and getting better. With cycling for instance I would probably get better more quickly if I did lots and lots of 4x4 intervals and similar, but I wouldn't enjoy doing only that so I do mostly recreational riding. In most cases being so so at many things is more enjoyable than being great at a single thing.
    As you said with the piano, you were a late starter, you had played for two years and therefore lacked experience for those pieces. If you had kept playing until now I am sure you would have been able to play those pieces much better. It's like building muscle or learning a language in many ways. Personally I have experienced that none of the things I did as a youngster I was only doing for me, while any sport I do now is for my enjoyment. Not having any thoughts of disappointing anyone or hoping for praise really helps me enjoy it as opposed to before when praise and disappointment from parents etc were a big part of it.

    A bit of advice on the skating, I obviously haven't seen you skate so I am just going by what you say in your posts. I get the impression that you are afraid of hurting yourself physically when biking or skating. In many ways this is a good trait that keeps you from getting messed up, but it can also hold you back alot. If you concentrate on not falling on skates (typically doing only small pushes, with pretty straight legs, afraid to shift the weight between different legs etc) you are not really going to learn to push properly (You'll also be very unstable). If you concentrate on putting lots of power into that push, regardless whether you fall or not you'll quickly figure out what works and what does not. You may fall a few times, but thats just part of learning. Once you are able to do one powerful push and glide, you do powerful push, glide, powerful push, glide and so on.
    Stopping is better to practice at low speed in the beginning though.
    I'd recommend watching some speed skating on youtube for learning basic pushing and turning. When I was young I learned to push and turn properly by imagining I was a speed skater.
    IMO long track speedskating is the most elegant looking sport anywhere (sans the mass starts)

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  10. Indeed, I don't think there's a dichotomy at all, in fact one feeds the other. Learning new skills and exposing oneself to activities which one will never be better than mediocre at is something we seem to figure out once wisdom and age kick in....:) I'll argue if one doesn't do both one will stagnate.

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  11. Your post also reminds me of the plight of Leonard Cohen. An acclaimed poet and novelist in the 60's he later took the stage as a singer in attempt to simply pay the bills. The fact he couldn't actually sing overwrought him, but others recognised his ability to “communicate emotion” and some 45 years later he still gives hope and inspiration through his songs to all of the many “beautiful losers”.

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    1. What do you mean Leonard Cohen can't sing!!

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    2. He "was born with the gift of a golden voice" after all!

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    3. Well, he really can't, but I'd listen to his not-singing singing all day long. : ) He's the best.

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    4. "All my favorite singers couldn't sing,"
      -Dave Berman (of the Silver Jews), "Blue Arrangements."

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    5. Leonard Cohen was in a country music band as a youth, so he was a singer and musician before he became a poet.

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  12. You have attained a degree of wisdom that usually takes a lot more time. I would wish for my children to do as you have. The important thing is that you enjoy your activities and growth, I took up art three years ago and the pursuit will keep me happy and humble the est of my life. I enjoy your writing and the thoughtful contributions of your readers, Thank you.

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  13. I daresay this is my favourite post on this blog, among many favourites. Mainly because how much I can identify with your "dilemma" of being so passionate about something you do not excel at. I worry about not working harder at my chosen profession, which I felt I had the natural talent to excel and would certainly contribute more to the greater good of the world etc etc if I focused more. Cycling consumes me at the moment and brings me so much joy. I am no bike technical whiz, no speedy gonzalez, no active advocate and not a completely fearless trail rider. Knowing that others feel the same conflict makes me feel more at peace with my love of all things bike. ok back to work now :)

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  14. If something makes you happy, what does it matter whether you are mediocre. Shame you gave up the piano. If you were proficient enough to convey the expression and musicality that's an achievement in itself. Obviously the pinnacle would be technical as well as artistic mastery, but more importantly artistic expression indicates an affinity to the music. Life isn't always about performance for others. Appreciation matters. Even appreciation of others' talents.

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    1. It is a shame. However even if I didn't quit then, college would have gotten in the way. I would not have been able to continue with the same teacher and would no longer have my own piano.

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  15. Nice. This feels like professional aspirations vs. personal fulfillment to me.

    Passion and mediocrity describe a lot of people on bikes, at every level. There's always someone who will drop the hammer so hard you'd be crying mommy.

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    1. Oh yes. More than a couple of local cyclists whose level of skill I can only dream of attaining some day, would describe themselves as 'mediocre.' That idea of relativity again.

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  16. And sometimes the single minded focus and effort it takes to do something at a high level, even something for which you have natural skill, can rob you of the joy (I say as a lapsed classical musician).

    Biking, alone or especially with my kids, is one of the times I experience pure joy. That joy has absolutely nothing to do with skill.

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  17. I am soooo happy to see you acquired decent skates and did the whole in-person form-fitting thing.

    Aside from that, this is one of your all-time best posts. And I can really identify with this. One of the deepest forms of human satisfaction is to do something well.

    Now..

    I am much like you when it comes to skating--this not something I'm ever going to excel at (no offense to you!). But the simple joy of doing this activity well enough to glide around the rink and not fall too often is well worth it. For me I think it has something to do with defying the gloom of winter.

    On the other hand, I gave up racquetball years ago because I'm just not a natural jock and no matter how hard I tried I was always going to lose. So I moved on.

    It just depends.

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  18. I enjoyed this post and appreciate your point, but I think that cycling is a bad example of "thing worth doing despite not being excellent at."

    For most of us, cycling is not a competitive sport, and I do not somehow fail at it just because somebody else rides faster. Every time I go on a ride I win, and every time I go on a ride instead of sitting in a car, I double-win.

    There are other things in life (such as one's job) where, in contrast, one is indeed competing against others.

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    1. Very true. The reference to cycling in the post is to roadcycling as a sport specifically - which is not the only kind of cycling I do, but one of them. Even at a non-competitive level, keeping up in club rides, paceline rides and the so-called "social rides" requires a certain degree of speed, skill and technique, even though it is not about winning. Same with long distance events and endurance events.

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  19. Awesomely deep sharing,my friend,and some great points that opened up my own eyes to areas in my own self. Good post,very :)

    The Disabled Cyclist

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  20. Very well put.
    I find I'm much in agreement - after a thirty-year career as a Carpenter - at which I am not that skilled. Like you, I just do not have the natural co-ordination.
    yet - I get a fierce satisfaction about being what I am - a moderately good carpenter. I Do know the difference - I married the daughter of a naturally skilled carpenter - one so good that the wood all but followed him around the job, hoping to be used.
    There is much value, really, in knowing where you are, in the big scheme of things, what your limitations and strengths are, and how best to use them.
    I'm also a mediocre cyclist - definitely not a "Lance Armstrong". I cannot ride hands-free. yet, i love to ride. I have loved the freedom it gaveme for some fifty-seven or eight years, now. I AM good at riding in traffic, and not being blown away - in itself, no mean skill - but that merely means I'm a good driver, not a good cyclist.
    Character this knowledge builds, and strength - strength not to be blown around by fashion.
    The world needs more of this strength.

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  21. Damn, V, you are on a roll these days.

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  22. wonerful post. any reflexions on masking skill with emotion in painting? - in the role of a recepient of art for me it is always emotion i am after. also in the performing arts. i usualy prefer a school play to professional theater - or to be precise: i prefer the moved and moving amateur to 97% of all professional theater...

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    1. When I was a student in England in the early-mid 2000s there was fantastic amateur theater where I lived, so many groups that you could go out to see a different play every day of the week if you liked. I preferred this to both professional theater and to movies, it just felt more real.

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  23. Did your infatuation with Chopin begin with the film Impromptu, by any chance? When I was a 90's theatre girl we used to entertain ourselves reenacting our favorite scenes.

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    1. Oh no, just listening to the music. I have not seen the film actually, might make for good on-the-trainer watching!

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  24. If you like Chopin's prelude in E-minor you may want to listen to Antonio Carlos Jobim's song: Insensatez.

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  25. Did not know you were into classical music! What other composers do you like?

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    1. From roughly the same period I like Liszt, Grieg, Brahms, Tschaikovsky, Ravel, Mahler, Satie... I am sure I am missing some. Otherwise I like Baroque stuff, especially Bach, Handel and Vivaldi. Beethoven too, which I guess is the in-between period.

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  26. How curious that you are good at chess, but not math or music theory. Those are kind of related.

    Matt

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    1. Yes, it's complicated. I guess you could say that I am not actually good at chess. But I can (or rather, could - this was a long time ago) play it in a similar way as people play poker, which allowed me to win without being brilliant at the game itself.

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  27. Aside from the reviews on the blog, which are exceptionally well done, I wondered why I kept reading for a while. Then I realized that the narrative of this blog isn't about bikes, but about slowly finding out that you're good at something. Whether because of effort, passion, talent, or whatever, it makes a compelling story.

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  28. Is this a particularly American trait? The fear of engaging activities in which we are not "very good"? Probably not. But at least with music I have seen that many other cultures don't have the same expectation that one must be on some pro or near-pro level in order to justify engaging in an activity.

    I think it is a real loss. The joys of being an "amateur" in every sense are really underestimated. And I also think a lot is lost when we only pursue activities where there is an assumption that we will be able to achieve some fairly high level as a price of entry.

    It is perhaps one of the few joys of getting older that we don't worry so much about other's judgments of us. But I think it is a mistake we make with kids a lot too that we guide then only toward activities in which they have some potential to achieve the level of "paid professional" as if that is the ultimate judge of the worth or benefit to pursuing something.

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    1. I am not American-born, and have spent my childhood in multiple countries. My own impression has been that, if anything, the US had more "just for fun, no pressure" types of opportunities for kids and teenagers than European countries (at least when I was growing up). And it wasn't about "achieving the level of 'paid professional'," but about an attitude of seriousness and dedication vs fun-fun-fun. Nowadays I have no idea what it is like; children are treated differently across the continents than when I was growing up.

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  29. I think it's age. The older I get, the less I give a flying rat's butt (as my mom used to say) about whether or not I'm "good" at something. My Beloved Man is very good at many things, but is also very stiff and awkward at times. He absolutely does not care. He lives without embarrassment. I try to follow his lead, and do what I enjoy without restraint.

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  30. The difference between childhood and adulthood, it seems to me, is that between overcoming disillusionment and overcoming disappointment.

    As a nine year old child one could be in the 95% percentile in tennis, baseball, piano, or whatever. This makes you really good at these activities, probably better than just about all of your peers with whom you interact. Understandably, these will become a crucial part of your sense of self and a child could be forgiven for thinking she has found her life’s pursuit. It is a difficult and bitter lesson to accept that for all of this you are never making it to Wimbledon, the Majors, or Carnegie Hall -- not even close. Accepting your limitations here (call it mediocrity) is about figuring out how to find one’s real calling in life, while somehow carrying that passion and enthusiasm for the things you excelled at in childhood into adulthood. This is aggravated by the fact that there is inevitably a period where the activity gets dropped. We go to college or travel or start new jobs as young adults and leave behind the stuff we were good at. Returning later is doubly hard. You are out of practice and perhaps have newfound physical limitations, meaning you have to accept that you were better at something at 15 than at 30 -- and you have to relive that old pain of giving up the lost dream that defined your sense of self as a child. It seems to me a lot of people fail to pull this off. We probably all know somebody who has just totally dropped something they were pretty good at as a kid. It is baffling to the outsider who has no skill in the activity, who is left to wonder why the person, for example, doesn’t just sit down at the piano and play a bit given that the skill level is 100 times that of the person who wishes desperately she’d been given lessons as a child. But it is understandable why a person would have no interest in playing at that level, given the history.

    Adulthood looks completely different to me. Here one faces the prospect, challenge, and reward of overcoming a lifelong disappointment. For many people this happens with respect to seemingly simply activities, where our parents forgot or failed to grant us those little blessings of muscle memory which are so easily received when you are five or six, and so painfully earned many years later: swimming, riding a bike, skating, etc. Working with limitations (call it mediocrity) has a totally different cast here. I had a lifelong fear of water, based on a horrible experience as a 3 year old when I was pulled by a nursery school teacher across a pool deck, screaming, clutching onto a chaise lounge -- thrown into water over my head. I spent nearly four decades with this hanging over me. Last year I turned 40 and decided I had had enough. I wanted to be able to swim with my children. I found a coach and tried to learn to swim (for about the 6th time in my life). I approached it with a “now or never” attitude and finally succeeded. Objectively, I am still a horrible swimmer. When I swim front crawl I get passed by 70 year olds in the next lane doing breaststroke. But I can swim 1000m without a break, which is pretty amazing for somebody who last year had panic attacks upon smelling chlorine and couldn’t manage more than about 2-3 strokes before desperately trying to find solid ground to stand on. Achieving my current state of mediocrity at swimming is one of my most satisfying accomplishments of recent memory. This is the beauty of middle age. Minimum proficiency in something completely new does bring amazing rewards. And so, I have my current list of modest goals which define the 40 year old sense of self: acquiring minimal proficiency in German (overcoming lifelong disappointment of being essentially monolingual); learn to ice skate (inspired by watching my children glide across the Kleinhesseloher See in the Englischer Garden, Munich), and riding a full century - hopefully with more grace than the metric century last summer!

    MK

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  31. With all your recent skating posts, Velouria, I thought you and your readers may find this interesting.
    http://chiccyclist.blogspot.com/2012/02/cycle-skating-in-paris-1923.html
    (I think Charlotte of Chic Cyclist was, until recently, from Boston.)

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  32. I spent two or three months learning that Chopin prelude. Technically, it's not so hard. But yes, it was a long time before my piano teacher was sufficiently satisfied with my understanding of it and performance to have me move on to something else. And I'm not sure he was ever truly satisfied.

    You might be interested in this article, which suggests that the problem may affect different genders in different ways. I am struggling to learn and understand calculus (25 years after I last encountered any sort of higher math), and right now my failures are making it very difficult to sustain my passion in it. I am, fortunately, blessed with a very supportive and encouraging spouse who 1) believes that anyone can learn calculus, and 2) loves to hear me play, even when I play badly--love is often said to be blind, but did you also know that it is deaf, as well?

    It is blogs like yours for which I am profoundly grateful, as I love bicycles and bicycling, but apparently am not and could never be a Serious Bicyclist, with the ridiculous monkey suit and mothership-shaped headgear and featherweight titanium racing bike who goes out every weekend and tries to beat the previous weekend's century time.

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  33. I think there is something to be said for pursuing activities one will never be good at. If you really enjoy it your standard of performance compared to experts should not matter much. You may not want to expose your "skills" to others but there is no reason you should not enjoy a hobby (other than brain surgery) for which you have no particular gift whatsoever.

    Cycling has rewards for everyone at every level. At the most basic you can enjoy the undeniable pleasures of being outdoors, and you can push your self incrementally - unlike bungee jumping, for instance! My first summer with clipless pedals I fell over at least once every single time I got on the bike. I'm known among my friends for spectacular crashes, but I still love to ride.

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  34. Skating:Velouria::Ballet:Prima Cyclorina

    I completely know where you're coming from. I started taking Ballet classes only as an adult, and it has been both a challenging and rewarding experience. If I could be mediocre at Ballet, I would be thrilled. What I have learned is that there is always room for improvement.

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  35. Skating would be a good cross-training activity for your bicycling for doing in the winter.

    What you need to work on to improve your ability to skate and also to vastly improve your bike handling skills is core strength. Yoga and pilates are great forms of exercise for this. I recommend you get into them as they would help you greatly.

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  36. Thanks for the article. I'm with you. I've been toying with a classical guitar off and on for a few years now and I have no talent whatsoever. As for bicycling, I've always been better at fixing them than riding them although through sheer perseverance over many years I'm getting a lot better at climbing. Still slow as molasses though...

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  37. This has got to be the most profound post you have ever written and that I have ever read.

    One thing even more painful that you do not mention is not knowing whether you have been good at something because you never had a chance to try or could not afford it, while being intimately conviced yo would have been good at it. I passed on the chance to study piano as a kid (paid by my parents), and now I cannot afford it simply because I cannot afford the piano. That's something I am intimately convinced I would have been decent at. That's the worst of scenarios.

    Yet I intimately feel what you are saying. I don't care about the cycling part as cycling for me is on the same level as taking the bus, no more.
    I took on skating as an adult a few year ago upon coming to Canada. Oh boy, lemme tell you I quickly read my level of maximum competency i.e. lifting one leg and skating backwards. After two more years of skating classes, I still shit myself liquid when attempting to cross the skates. I know I'll never be Johnny weir, but I did enjoy the experience and the learning was fun and not a chore at all.

    That's my attitude now. I try some, if I am good at it then great, if not, I enjoy the moment and view it as an enhancement of my culture. No bitter feelings.

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