Friday, July 16, 2010

Beginner's mind

I'm up early in St. Paul on the day we all leave the house, sister and family bound for the Black Hills as we head south to my mom. Everything is still quiet. I'm watching the British Open with the sound off. Golf isn't my favorite thing, but St. Andrew's is such a sight, a stark and unforgiving beauty. The whole world lines up to take the test, and everyone tastes frustration and triumph on that earth.

I'm nursing an aching shoulder this morning, the result of overexertion last Wii Tennis. What was I saying? - frustration and triumph. Nephew and I played one set too many last night, and I was rarely able to answer his blistering serve. In all such games, I (along with most of my generation, I imagine) am used to being bested by tweens, confronted with a whole set of skills I can't seem to learn. The turbocharged hand-eye coordination is the least of it. How small children come to understand the rules of Super Mario is beyond me (paragate, parasamgate).

He was working out his own frustration during the game, having been reassigned Bach and Chopin preludes for another week at his piano lesson. It's the hard transition from little-kid piano books to real repertoire, and his teacher is upping the ante as well. He is trying to understand the new things being asked of him, and feels the loss of a habit of easy achievement.

I watch master after master humbled by the wind and rough. St. Andrew's, Bach, Wii Sports, name your Everest: we gain expertise only to be turned back into beginners, again and again.


1 comment:

lcanning said...

William unlocked a new level in Super Mario today - one Mike has failed to get to. And so the baton is passed. He's trying to teach me and I find it incomprehensible. But then, I can't program the video recorder, either. Oh, wait, I remember, we don't have one. Sigh.