You Know Pasta’s Done—When It Sticks to the Wall!
I have a good friend who is about trying a lot of different things right now. She says, “I’m going through a phase and seeing what sticks!”
Of course, I got to thinking. That’s just like pasta, I thunk! An old trick with the Italians was to throw a piece of spaghetti against the wall. If it stuck, it was just about al dente (to the tooth), or a tiny bit chewy, but done.
I think that most people in life think that trying something means committing to it. At my age, I don’t believe that at all.
I love to stick my hands in things and give something a good try. I love to make a new recipe. I loved bungee jumping. I loved hang gliding. I hated learning to ski, but I love it now. Had someone not thrown me on top of a high mountain and said, find your way down, I probably would have never learned. But once I got the hang of it, you can’t keep me from committing to a fun ski trip. I love it.
I’m not great at softball, but, hell, I’ll play if the right people are doing it for fun. At this point in my life, I really don’t care if I strike out. I’d probably have a good laugh at myself if I did.
There was a time in my life I would have been mortified to have failed at anything and wouldn’t have tried that very thing, just for fear of failing. How many chances have you lost in your life from not letting yourself have a shot at life, even if you had no chance at being great at it?
I’m a Virgo and a perfectionist. I love being great at things. So, unfortunately, that made me a very limited person for a long time in my life. I was so afraid that people would judge me if I were bad at something, I’d never even tried sometimes.
I stress the sometimes, because there was a voice in me—I think it came from my mother—who said, “If you don’t ask questions, you’ll never learn, and if you don’t swing at the ball, you’ll never hit it.”
Yes, I do remember how she came to give me that talk. It was 1968 and I was eight years old. My dad made me join the Little League Baseball team. God, I hated it. I was the worst person on the team. I would get stuck out in rightfield only if we were winning and only on the last inning. Even then, if I had to make the rounds of going to bat, I would strike out every time.
My parents never came to one game. So, I got the bright idea that I would tell the coach that I had to leave early to get home before dark. This would make me have to leave before the eighth inning every game, which meant that I never would get into the games at all. The only time I had to really catch a ball or bat a ball was at practice was at the beginning of the season. That, thank the good Lord, was over.
My excuse was perfectly plausible until the end of the season when my team actually won the pennant, and I had no idea, because I hadn’t been to one single ninth inning.
The coach called my mother and father to invite them and I to the banquet. He also told her that he was sorry I had to leave early before the end of each game. This led my mother to our big “try” talk.
My dad did make me go to the banquet and get my trophy, though I never even played. What a joke. So, you could say I learned a lot from that summer, trying to avoid life. If you never swing the bat, you can never hit the ball.
I would have helped to have had a supportive father, who actually spent some time with me trying to teach me how to play. But that is neither here nor there at this point.
I got him back when he would be with his football buddies watching Sunday football. I would come into the room—usually dancing into the room—and say, “Dad, did they get a home run yet?”
Mischievous little chap, I was. And I didn’t like Dad much. He kind of instilled it in me early that perfection was the game. If you couldn’t be perfect, you just shouldn’t do it. That fact, he would make known every Easter when he would end up coloring all the Easter eggs because his children made them too ugly to be seen by the company. Christmas was similar. The tree ornaments had to perfectly symmetrical, otherwise they would have to be rehung by him. I hated holidays because of that.
It took me until three years ago until I actually tried putting up my own Christmas tree, in my own way, with my own set of ornament rules. You know what? I loved it. I actually used to go on a vacation at Christmas time every year just to avoid the customs. Now I stay home on purpose, so I can enjoy all the things I missed as a child.
Throw that damn pasta against the wall until it sticks. Keep trying, friends. Some day you’ll find something that really makes your heart sing. And when you do, you’ll be glad you took the time to try. It makes all the difference in the world.
- Very Very Sextra-Ordinary
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