Wednesday, January 30, 2008



The mountain and the squirrel
Had a quarrel;
And the former called the latter "Little Prig."
Bun replied,
"You are doubtless very big;
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together
To make up a year
And a sphere.
And I think it's no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I'm not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry.
I'll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track;
Talents differ: all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I try to remember this poem whenever I have occasion to sing. Because I can't sing, and I admit to envy of those who can. And I feel embarrassed--ashamed, even--not to be able to carry a tune. It seems such a simple thing to most people I meet, to be able to sing "Happy Birthday" and not throw off all around you, to sing the national anthem at a ball game and not have the people in front of you turn around and look. Why can't I?

I can't say why I am so hard on myself for such a trivial shortcoming; I certainly would never think less of someone who couldn't do something I am good at. One of my dear friends cannot spell, but can write clearly and succinctly. My sister cannot read a map, but she can remember the address of the place you are looking for. My brother-in-law can't bake a batch of brownies out of a box, but he can build anything you like out of wood. I do not scorn them for having shortcomings--on the contrary, it just makes them all the more dear to me.

So I try to content myself with occupying my place, and I remind myself some things I am good at: I can tell a good story, I'm a good troubleshooter, I have an eye for detail. Some of my talents are useful, such as always knowing which direction I am facing, and some are obscure and not so frequently needed, such as the ability to recall the color of objects I have seen and match them perfectly. Besides my singing, I have some major downfalls: I procrastinate, I start things I don't finish, and I have a terrible tendency to fall into sarcasm. Yet somehow, these more serious deficiencies do not bother me as much as the inability to sing.

It is good to remember we all have our talents, big and small. What are some of yours?


Wade said...

i enjoy encouraging others. don't know how good i am at it, but i like doing it. :D

anglophile said...

Oh, I daresay you've seen proof of your talent of encouragement, Wade. ;)

amy d said...

We must be sisters as we have the same downfalls. Small talents of mine: I can put a baby right to sleep with my rocking skills, I do some impressions pretty well and I can do that cool trick with a Zippo (where you open and strike the lighter on your pants).

Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

A good school poem for those frequent times when we fail to appreciate one another. The only worry is the part about cracking the nut. Kind of like a bad word there.