For just a moment at a recent band concert, I regretted being so lazy in band.
I hereby apologize to my parents for being such a goob about practicing, my continual competition with some guy with poofy ’80s hair for last chair, and my attempt to make it an entire year without playing a note.
There is a devious side of me that says if I can’t excel, then I will make sure I am the worst and at least entertained. I was never cut out to be in marching band. I might have been a decent musician, but once hand-eye coordination, rhythm, and paying attention were added to the mix, I was doomed for failure.
At least it gave me the great memory of getting distracted and being on the opposite side of the field from the other 200 band members. Thank you Mr. Swearingen for yelling my favorite defining line for life, “Stage, what are you doing?”
I regret never learning the skill of practicing. I worked hard at school, but I’ve never been good at practicing skills. I sew like a bat out of hell. I’m a good gardener if Kirt does it and my only job is to pick stuff later. I do some beading and have several projects started that will never be finished.
What I regretted for a moment at the concert tonight was discipline. I don’t think it was just laziness. If I am honest with myself, I have to admit my fear of not doing something well and looking like a fool. I’d rather be a fool outright than try hard and still fail.
I’ve learned some discipline along the way. I know I’m a lousy pastor and human being in general if I don’t practice morning prayer. This will sound strange, but I’m not a naturally thoughtful or caring individual. I’m deeply compassionate and feel the suffering of others intensely, but I’ll probably never remember your birthday or send flowers.
The discipline of morning prayer helps me practice being present with God, hearing scripture and thinking of others. It helps me practice getting out of the way of my day and being present with the folks I will meet. I pray through my to-do list and get perspective on my priorities.
It’s not quite like the tedium of practicing the saxophone and I’m not convinced I’m getting any better at what I do, but the practice of prayer helps me be a bit more gracious with myself and others, a bit more willing to risk and look like a fool. I’m excited that my kids sometimes practice their instruments.
I was never going to be a professional saxophonist, and truthfully maybe I don’t regret playing shadow puppets with the poofy ’80s hair guy during band.
• Tari Stage-Harvey is pastor at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. “Living Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.