Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Getting Rusty

My last saxophone lesson was in mid-May. When it ended, I bid my farmer/teacher a happy summer and the sax stayed in its case until early July when I pulled it out to amaze my visiting mother-in-law.

She was amazed, all right.

I couldn’t remember a thing! I hastily put the instrument back in its case and there it stayed. I’m to begin lessons again in November. My instructor will take my hard-earned dollars for teaching me the same old things over. My longsuffering husband will have to listen to the same juvenile beginner tunes, with the same excruciating squawks. Apparently, playing a sax is not like riding a bike. 

Or could it have something to do with the fact I started learning in my 50’s?

I did some sewing recently. Hadn’t sewn much for years and forgot how much I enjoy it when it’s something more dazzling than re-attaching buttons or hemming slacks. 

I was dazzled, all right. 

I couldn’t even thread the machine, let alone the needle. Good thing the old woman who sleeps with my husband keeps a pair of magnifying glasses around the house. 

Last week I returned to Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown video workout after giving myself a four month break. It’s not that I intended to give myself such a long break. It was supposed to be a week or two, while we moved. Then I gave myself an extension. And another. I’m generous that way. Finally decided to discipline myself and get back into it.

I was disciplined, all right. 

I thought I was going to get stuck in the Camel pose and die. Some funeral director would make a killing on  a custom-designed, camel-shaped casket for my stiffened carcass. Strangely enough, it wasn’t until two days later I felt the sore muscles – mostly in my shoulders from those despicable Chaturanga push-ups.

Does it seem to you that the older we are, the less time it takes to get rusty? You can’t afford to quit for a minute, or you’re right back to square one. This is why we spend the first several years of our life in school. Youth is the time to study new languages, memorize poetry, scripture, and multiplication tables, and learn how to ride a bike or play an instrument. 

What’s the point of learning anything new at this stage if you forget it all at lightning speed? I may as well sit on the couch watching The Bachelorette and not bother. This is not encouraging.

Or is it?

When I took another stab at my saxophone playing, I realized I could navigate through my beginner book without help and in a lot less time than it took the first go around. In spite of myself, maybe I wasn’t entirely lost after all.

The quality of my finished sewing project is far superior to anything I cranked out when my eyes were only twelve years old, in spite of the ease with which my nimble fingers could thread a needle way back then.

That I found the yoga more difficult after a break tells me it actually was making a difference before the break. It means if we stick with our exercise programs, we really can enjoy some small measure of control over our strength and flexibility as we age—key factors in avoiding falls, broken bones, and aching joints.

Guess I don’t get to quit yet. Bummer.

All this talk of camels and needles reminds me of a Bible verse I once memorized. “It is easier for a camel to play a saxophone than to pass a rich man through the eye of a needle.” Or something like that. 

Maybe I learned that one in my forties.

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