Off the Line: A fine balancing act

Anyone who knows me will adamantly attest that I can be quite resolved when it comes to some things.

Anyone who knows me will adamantly attest that I can be quite resolved when it comes to some things. Those people likely call myresolution stubbornness, and as much as I hate to admit it, they would be correct in doing so. I prefer the word determination, thoughinstead of stubbornness.

In fact, those people know that if they want me to do something, all they have to do is tell me to not do it. In other words, don’t tell mewhat to do. Ever.

Don’t tell me I can’t. Don’t tell me no. Don’t boss me.

I should have probably come with an instruction manual just to make it easier on those people who care about me and only want the bestfor me.

After saying that, I will also grudgingly admit that I am likely my own worst enemy and my life is an exercise in balancing myindependence with doing what is right for me, even if I don’t like it or don’t feel like doing it.

I will also say my stubbornness is likely the reason why I am alive and kicking today after a health crisis in 2014. So I know that whentrying to tame my own stubbornness it is important that I balance that stub…ahem…determination with good old fashioned commonsense. In other words, I am trying to not throw out the baby with the bath water.

When I was a kid, about eight years old, or so, my parents decided that if their children had nothing else in life, they would have culture.To them, culture came by way of having children who could play a musical instrument.

So, in search of culture, off they went looking for an organ teacher. Putting it politely, the organ teacher was a miserable old hag who hadsternness written all over her craggy features. I think it’s quite possible that she arrived at our home lessons on a broom. Yes, quitepossible.

I didn’t like her, and she didn’t like me. Thinking back, I’m fairly certain she didn’t like children, period and she had five of us to teach.

It’s likely she thought I was pretty miserable myself. After the first lesson with her I knew that not only did I not like her, but I also didn’tlike playing the organ either. That dislike was reinforced by the endless practice which was demanded of us daily.

So, given my obvious dislike of both the organ and the teacher, it was inevitable that the day would come in which my teacher would ridherself of the odious child she was shackled to. It’s not surprising that that odious child was me and she made no secret of how much Idisgusted her.

One day, after practice, the teacher told my mother, right in front of me that she would do best to save her money on lessons for me as Ihad a “tin ear”. Can you imagine? Right in front on me, she said I had a tin ear!

In other words, I couldn’t make music. Too bad for her that I was told indirectly that I couldn’t.

You see, for years I believed her and so I shied away from participating in music. Then, one day I decided that no matter if I had a tin earor not, I was going to learn to play guitar. And I did on my beat up, used guitar with a crack in the neck. I learned to play by ear and bywatching people play guitar. If I may say so, I got pretty good at it too and that encouraged me to try other things, such as the harmonica.

I remember standing alongside some of the best musicians in the Kootenays during various jam nights and actually keeping up with themto songs I didn’t even know. All by ear, tin ear, I might add. Now, I’m not saying I am an accomplished musician far from it. But I nowknow I never did have a tin ear. Had I not have been “determined” I likely would have withered musically because of her.

So, if you are like me, I urge you to continue being determined. You just have to know how to temper that. No pun meant.

Or, if you are the parent of young girl who is, shall we say, a bit head-strong, I encourage you to not try to take that away from her, theLord knows she will need it in upcoming years. Instead, gently guide her without breaking her. Oh, and before you hire an organ teacher,ask your daughter if she even wants to learn to play the organ. You might save yourself and her, a bit of a headache.