I admit it. I rarely laugh at myself. I think part of that comes from innate personality—I was born a serious person with a dry sense of humor. Beyond that, though, I went through what a lot of kids do. I was laughed at a lot growing up. All for various reasons, mind you, but it hurt nonetheless.
The earliest occurrences I recall involve my first bicycle and my father. I was five or six and we didn’t have a lot of money, but Dad found a used, little pink bike for my birthday. It was only sixteen inches tall, no training wheels, and made for me.
There a clear recollection of me taking possession of it. I was in the narrow side yard. Back then there were no helmets, knee or elbow pads, nothing like that. It was all bare legs and arms. If you fell off, you got back on or risked total nerdhood. And that was before the word ‘nerd’ had been invented.
I straddled that little bike, aimed it for the front yard, and took off. About five feet or so later came the first crash. Fury and disappointment roared through me. No thoughts of defeat entered my brain.
What did enter my ears was my dad laughing at me for falling off. It made me even angrier. It wasn’t like I had a lot of experience riding a bike. That failed attempt had been my first.
With each subsequent crash that day, the laughter followed me to my next attempt. Success arrived on the handlebars of the fifth or sixth trip up the side yard. That’s when I heard something like “It’s about time.”
From then on, I was set up for life. It’s taken more decades than I care to number to get past that experience. Why? Because someone I loved humiliated me with laughter. I didn’t need to laugh at myself. There was a handy soundtrack already embedded in my memory. A lot of reconciliation has gone into accepting the fact that my father had no clue as to the impact of his delight in my stubborn determination to conquer a bicycle.
Am I over it now? From the tiny tear running down my cheek as I write this, I’d have to say “Not really.” I can accept the ultimate reality of the experience so long ago, but the hurt went too deep and impacted too much to ever drain away completely.
You may also ask why I’m writing about this incidence from my childhood. It comes down to recognizing that we each come to a crossroads in our lives where we must laugh at ourselves or implode. I’ve never had much luck with the practice. Today, though, I chuckled at myself. Out of the Blue. I hadn’t done anything funny.
I was listening to some fantastic music written by Ivan Torrent. As my mind floated on the notes, it settled onto a long-desired dream of creating music. With today’s technology and the auxiliary instrument units that can be attached to a good computer, music is easier to create now than ever before. And the dream blossomed in my mind again.
That’s when the chuckling started to bubble up. An image of an acquaintance from years ago rose to chide me. Not for the dream, but to remind me of his analysis of me. Leo was a specialist in personality mapping. When he finished going over my results, he came back to me and said, “Girl, you won’t have an easy road. You’re one of those types who will never be satisfied with what you choose to pursue. You have too broad an interest range. You get bored too easily. You’ll enjoy many careers, but they’ll all be short-lived.”
I hadn’t thought about Leo in a long time, but I’d never forgotten his assessment of me. It was spot on. I tend to neglect that reality. Being bright, having a few talents here and there, all combine to create a kind of Renaissance person. That was me.
Here I was struggling frantically to finish a novella that was driving me round the proverbial bend, and my mind was off on making music for book trailers. How ridiculous is that? Okay, maybe not ridiculous, but certainly in character, albeit a bit premature.
Suddenly I could delight in a moment of self-humor. It wasn’t vindictive or mocking, or filled with ridicule. It was an appreciation of a personal quirk and something that was more real than a misconstrued episode from decades ago. It also allowed me self-appreciation of another sort; one recognizing my uniqueness and potential—realized or not.
That was the gift I gave myself today. Regardless of our age, each of us has untapped potential left to pursue. How fabulous is that!
Enjoy your potential today. Chuckle over the things you dream of doing and know that you are unique. It’s amazing how freeing the sensation is.
Until next time, a bientot,