I Tried But I Couldn’t Do It

I always wanted to play the piano. I love its sound, and my fingers are long and slender, well-suited to piano playing, I am told. When our daughter took piano lessons many years ago, I signed up for lessons too, but I was a busy mom and rarely practiced. After going to class a few times and demonstrating to the teacher that I was unable to play the assigned piece, Mary Had a Little Lamb, for example, I quit.

I always wanted to sew clothes for my grandchildren. I like selecting sweet, simple patterns for sun suits, pants, and dresses. I like choosing fabric and notions (buttons, lace, etc.). I do not, however, like the sewing part. Constantly picking up pieces of thread, fabric scraps, and straight pins scattered across the room, not to mention dealing with my fury when an outfit didn’t turn out right, was too hard. I quit.

I always wanted to grow plants. Nothing is prettier than a multicolored plot of irises or a well weeded vegetable garden. Nothing is tastier than fresh, garden-grown tomatoes and green beans. I like everything about plants except the work that goes into growing my own. After laboring in the hot sun for a growing season, killing insects, pulling weeds, and faithfully watering the ever-needy little seedlings, I quit.

I always wanted to scrapbook. I am creative, love taking family photos, and like the idea of having scrapbooks that document the changes in our family. I like the cutesy craft paper used in scrapbooking, the stencils, the stickers, the fancy cutting implements, and the various page layouts shown in books. What I don’t love is cleaning the mess created when photos get mixed together with scraps of paper, and glue gets stuck to all the wrong pieces, and my creations fail to match the patterns I faithfully followed. Thus, I quit.

Life is too short for me to waste time doing non-compulsory tasks that give me no pleasure. I can enjoy listening to piano played by professionals; dress my grandchildren in adorable outfits from Kohl’s; buy fruits, vegetables, and flowers at Kroger; and look at family photos any time I want. What is more, I can enjoy these life-enhancing activities without stressing myself, destroying my house, and burdening my husband with an angry and depressed wife whose efforts at some project failed.

Writing is the one non-compulsory activity I refuse to quit practicing. I can open my laptop, pull up a clean sheet of paper, write, rewrite, delete, cut and paste, italicize, underline, change fonts, consult a dictionary and thesaurus, research ideas on Google, spell check my work, and save my piece for later without leaving any mess.

When I close my laptop, my room is not littered with scraps of fabric, gluey bits of paper, or piano pieces begging to be practiced. I don’t have to weed my laptop or kill squash bugs or tomato worms on its surface. The only time it gets watered is when I accidentally spill a glass of iced tea on the keyboard.

After much experimenting, I have found that writing is the pastime that makes me happy. I hope you have a pastime that does the same for you.

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14 thoughts on “I Tried But I Couldn’t Do It”

  1. I’m with Ra Anna! “Life is too short for me to waste time doing non-compulsory tasks that give me no pleasure.” Thank you, Debbie, for this permission! I guess I can’t give up cooking, but I can stop feeling guilty about not continuing some of the interests I’ve had over the years.

    1. Any guilt you can shed is a good thing. Instead of remembering all the things you intended to get done in a day, focus upon your accomplishments. Even if they seem small and insignificant, they were important to you.

  2. I love your pastime and glad you have decided to devote your time to it instead of all that other “stuff”. I have come to the conclusion my pastime has been to collect all the things necessary to start but not participate in a pastime. I agree with you the computer is less messy.

    1. Oh, Shirley, I love this sentence in your comment: I have come to the conclusion my pastime has been to collect all the things necessary to start but not participate in a pastime.

      Can I ever relate!!!

  3. I remember your sewing talents, Debbie. About 38 years ago, you made Amanda a little sleeveless summer dress and matching “panties” to go over her diaper when she was one year old. I can still see this dress in my mind today–it was peach and white tiny checked with eyelet lace attached. I saved it and passed it down for our other little girls to wear at that same age. Just wanted you to know I remember that talent you had and shared with others so long ago. I’m glad you’re writing now. My hobbies have certainly shifted and changed over the years as the seasons of life have come and gone!

    1. Becky, I think I found time to do more extra things when my children were little than I do now that they are older.

      I relate with your sentence: My hobbies have certainly shifted and changed over the years as the seasons of life have come and gone!

  4. I’ve never thought about the process of writing as being a neater, less physically stressful activity compared to the other activities you mention in your piece. You make a very compelling case for writing as a preferable pastime. You know it’s one of my favorite pastimes, too. After reading your piece, I have even more reasons to love it!

    The part about “watering” your computer was laugh-out-loud funny! Nice piece, Debbie! 🙂

  5. Love your blog! Debbie you have a wonderful way of putting into words my exact feelings on so many things! Now I don’t feel so guilty for all the projects I’ve wanted to do at some time or other and never accomplished. 😊

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