by Jo Robertson
I was looking at some pictures of my granddaughter Annie the other day. Her family took a trip to Apple Hill, a beautiful place in the fall, where there’s a small fishing pond and a picnic area for children to play. Ducks swim on the water and waddle around the shore.
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 "lellow" 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 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 Kelly Clarkson 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.
When I was younger, I wanted to be a professional singer. After I was graduated from high school, 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 too chicken. I wouldn’t take the chance. I was afraid to risk embarrassment. Afraid I wasn't good enough.
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 every muscle in my body quaked like an aftershock -- but not my voice. My voice was clear and smooth and unfettered.
But you see, I could have done that at age seventeen or eighteen 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. The task doesn’t get easier; our ability to accomplish the task becomes greater.
So my question for you is -- What have you learned to do that got easier with the doing of it? Come on, share those stories, folks. It doesn't have to be about writing. We writers get our inspiration and our perseverance from your successes!
Jo's Pumpkin Bread HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 c. sugar
1 c. oil
2/3 c. water
2 cans canned pumpkin
Mix wet ingredients well. Add nuts and dry ingredients. Bake at 350 degress in greased pans about 35 to 40 minutes. Do not overbake. This recipe works best in small loaf pans. Makes 6 small loaves or three large loaves.