When I was growing up, the gold standard, at least in the circles my family associated with was to at least try to be “Rennaisance” man. In practice, this is why I was enrolled in accordion, auto shop, baseball, Boy Scouts, Air Force ROTC, etc. I took classes in theater as well playing sports. I learned about classical music, literature, and they even had a class at my Christian school called “outdoorsmanship.” I have filed patents for a couple of gadgets. I wrote an interactive CD-ROM software to teach kids about orchestral music in college.
My dad firmly believed that a man should be able to change the oil, make a blackbery cobbler in a dutch oven on an open fire, pitch a perfect game, shim a door and then jump right into the tenor part of Handels “Messiah.” All of which I have done.
The idea was that if I showed even the slightest interest in something, my parents would at least try to let me explore it. (Although the accordion is an instrument popular in the old country, and my dad kind of insisted on that one). They didn’t always force me to finish what I started, but they made it clear that rounding out my interests would make me a more interesting person, with a deeply fulfilling inner life. I gravitate toward some, and others I thought they were interesting, but never pursued them past a novice level. I would let reader (or people who know me) decide if it worked.
There were a few of these things that I could just never get into. Namely. ballet and poetry. Both make me want to fall out of my chair and drop dead. However, my oldest daughter is shaping up to have to have a talent for the former, and is actually pretty spindly and petite, like a ballerina. Plus, she’s a girl and everything.
RIght now, she is slated to be a butterfly in the Queens City Ballet Company’s performance of “Alice in Wonderland” here in Helena, and if you have never had a child in a high-end ballet troup, its a pretty greulling schedule. They also have at least one “observation” night where you can watch a rehersal. (Usually, you don’t get to watch, because it is distracting). So, I went, to be the supportive dad. Me and Kahtryn, the one year old sat together.
As you can see, I am still having trouble containing my enthusiasm for the craft. But, I have to admit, there is some raw talent there, even if I try to be totally objective.
Mychael has a physician friend who, when you ask him “what made you want to become a doctor?” he replies “my mom made me.”
Columnist and talk show host Dennis Prager is also an amateur symphony conductor. He gets the opportunity to go all over the world and conduct orchestras as a guest, and there is one question he always asks the group as they begin rehersals. Kind of an ice breaker. He is standing in front of the most accomplished musicians in the world and asks “how many of you are here because your parents made you take [trumpet/violin/cello/whatever] lesssons and forced you to practice for hours?”
Almost all of them raise their hands. And I think about this in a world where these art forms, and these disciplines are fading from view and not appreciated. How do you handle this?
By the way, I thought this was a funny out take from our family photo session.
Not really sure what’s going on there.