Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sorry. I Cannot.

Taylor's brother and father are both quite musically talented. That means that we have lots of opportunities to go to concerts to hear Mozart or Dvorak and see/hear the blood relatives play violin. Unfortunately, Taylor hates concerts. Because he has very little sense of time and because reading a program tells him very little about how much he will have to endure, you can see Taylor coming up with his very best argument against going. What it really boils down to is, "Sorry. I cannot."
I sort of like that. He's being asked...told... that he needs to put on something besides sweat pants, that he needs to wear a belt and jacket and then sit in a concert hall to hear music he may not even like. Sorry, he cannot. Of course, he will and he does, but he gives it best shot, "Sorry. I cannot." Fortunately, I can still outsmart him, so it almost never works for him. And, besides that, there's always that parental knowing: Sometimes in life you are going to have to do stuff you just do not want to do. Bitter medicine at times.
Taylor used to say that about a lot of things we requested. Write your name. Sorry I cannot. Brush your teeth. Sorry I cannot. Eat this food you hate. Sorry I cannot. There was no veil, no wiggling around and making excuses, no feigned attempt at trying. No, he just put it out there: The request was simply not anything he was remotely interested in doing at the moment---or ever really. Kind of like a lot of us actually. Those requests don't sound so big, do they, in the scheme of things, I mean. I just wonder why we all tend to balk, then when it's our turn to stretch.
When we were growing up and our father told us to do something, of course we balked...and then got spanked and then got the broken record learning lesson: "Just say yes sir and that's all." I was right in that camp of children that accused my parents, "Oh, you just had us so you would have somebody to do the dishes for you!" I was convinced that the only reason my mother wanted any of us on this earth was to get up and find her the remote control. I know I said lots of sassy things under my breath, but "Sorry. I cannot" did not escape from my lips out loud.
My parents were what you might call "old school." I valued my life too much to be standing too close to them...and talk back. "Sorry. I cannot,' never made it out loud--to them.
Yes, I thought things were rough and that way too much was asked of me. But really an indelible and invaluable lesson was taught to me by requiring me to complete tasks I did not want to do, to go places I did not want to go, to experience things I did not want to experience. I guess you could say that it is times like that in which we build grit and muscle and strength of some sort in ourselves. It sounds a bit like the word, discipline: practice, prepare, cultivate, train, tune-up. And discipline makes me think of the word disciple. (Don't freak out here, anybody. I'm not going all "churchy" on you.) Disciple means learner. See, you lived through that definition. Whew.
So, here's my big fat spiritual question: What is it that we want to learn?
To learn about who we are and where we're going and what our purpose is---like on this very day. Of what will we be a disciple....a learner?
What if something comes to you ---a calling maybe, a voice, an intuition, a hunch, a request---in your own personal life? Yeah, about your purpose.
What are you going to say?
Sorry, I cannot?
Nice try.
Oh heck, take off your sweat pants.
Put on your belt and jacket.
Feel the fear.
Do it anyway.
Sorry. Yes you can.