Monday, 26 November 2012


Armless surfer 

There have not been many times in my life, I am ashamed to say, that I have been determined to do anything.  I didn't try my hardest in my final school exams - in case my best wasn't good enough to go to university.  Once there, I half-heartedly did a course in languages, although my real love at school had been biology with some kind of end career involving animals vaguely envisioned.  The snag was, I had no aptitude for Maths or Science, so I couldn't pursue any such career. I reluctantly became a High School teacher as our Career Guidance was minimal if you had an Arts degree, and also because I loved snow ski-ing and that gave me a chance of one more year at Aberdeen University in Scotland, as the British government kindly funded one year of Post-Grad Teacher training which you didn't have to pay back.  I really disliked that year but I went with the flow... Then I followed a love interest to Israel for two years and on to South Africa, where I taught High School for the first time.  The only thing I enjoyed was producing school plays but at least, because I was not an SA citizen at the time and also a married woman, I could only get temporary posts and therefore taught every subject under the sun, according to which teachers the headmaster was short of at the time. I liked learning. It is only of late as the ageing process has hit hard, that I have determined to do certain things. Number 1 is to keep my husband happy in bed and to pretend that my libido has not hit the deck since menopause. That's easy because I love him.  Number 2, I was determined to get used to contact lenses. It took me six months, but I finally mastered the art. Number 3, I will continue to pursue finding ways to combat the osteo-arthritis that has started in my fingers and will continue to go to the gym classes which help this. Number 4, I badly wanted to ride my scooter, but it took time to get used to having a haircut suitable for a helmet and learning to avoid painfully catching my ear-rings every time I took it on or off; remembering the correct sequence of organising keys, clothes, gloves, handbag, shopping bags, in order to get in and out of my house, garage and driveway, especially when returning home from a trip. I did it, even after my eye op, I have ridden my scooter peering out under swollen lids, wearing two pairs of glasses on top on each other under my helmet, because I couldn't yet wear my contacts. You might tut-tut as this, but it was jolly good fun. I am also determined to keep reading inspirational stories about other people who have been determined to cope with vastly more difficult situations than I have.  Amen to them. They keep me humble.

1 comment:

  1. Shall I take the bait? No, I will behave myself. Oh just slightly misbehave...I think number 1 and number 3 on your list might have a common therapy. Practice makes perfect.

    As always your candidness is refreshing, but I think you are being too hard on yourself. I think you have lived your life with more determination than you give yourself credit. You don't get a university degree and charge off half way around the world because you are a wilting delicate flower.

    The problem with having determination for certain occupations is that if you are missing an aptitude, determination will only get you so far. The piano bars in the world are loaded with people who were 99.5% on their way to becoming great concert pianists.

    My teenage dream was to become an automotive engineer. I wanted to go to General Motors Institute, the West Point of the American automotive engineering education.

    The brains were not there. You can have all the determination in the world but if you can't fathom a differential equation you are not going to make it. You are not going to make it because there are a bazillion other people who do understand a differential equation that will be turned away. And let's presume that somehow I did get a degree that would have qualified me as an automotive engineer. Would I have got to work on something sexy like combustion chamber geometry for increased horsepower, or would I have been handed a glove compartment latch and told to figure out a way to make it for 10 cents less per unit?

    Along with determination one has to have a sense of realism. Somebody doing the impossible makes for great movies and magazine articles, but most people are going to end up in the piano bars of life. Finding happiness is far more important. From what I have read here in your blog, you have been very successful in happiness. You had a successful teaching career, have a wonderful marriage, a great family and two lovely homes. Those things didn't happen because you lack determination.