Friday, 2 January 2009

Just sing!

"Finches on Parade" - Karsten Stier

Have you ever noticed that it is a rare thing to find children all skilled in the same thing?

The classic three child scenario is that the first child has free reign and usually becomes mobile and vocal before the second. The second arrives and find that the 'skills' of the elder child too advanced to compete and so moves into unfilled niches, often sport. The third arrives and can't compete academically as well as the first or athletically as well as the second and looks for another unfilled niche, often humour.

Generalisations, but you get what I mean.

The same happens in our adult life, where we compare ourselves to people who do something really well and so, because we believe that we can't compete or exceed this benchmark, we give up.

The only benchmark should be you. Are you better now than you were then?


In year 10 at high school I was always second to Keith Ayres (Hi Keith, if you are reading this!). Time and time again, in all subjects, Keith topped the class and I was second.

Except for Art. I was much better at art than Keith was.

But, come the final mark for the year, Keith beat me. The rationale of the teacher was that he had improved more than I had over the year.

Only now do I really understand what she was on about.


Use the talents you possess,
for the woods would be a very silent place
if no birds sang except the best.

- Henry Van Dyke.


  1. Great thoughts for the new year. And I love the van Dyke quote.

  2. Very well said but I'd still harbor a little ill will towards Keith. Maybe.

  3. Couldn't you have taken Keith down behind the shelter-shed and given him a first-class whupping?

    Oh, sorry, second-class.

  4. ....... grades be damned.
    OK, perhaps harsh, but, dang!
    It isn't the grade that ever meant anything. It was who learned and what?
    Sounds like another accomplishment for you.

    Oh yeah, and, hi Keith, from the USA.

  5. LOL @ Cosmo! My daughter must read this! She's been runner up to the same girl ( they're very good friends, but very competitive) for Dux of Year 7 and Dux of year 8!! It's incredibly frustrating for her, but it makes her strive that wee bit harder, and she does deep down, know that this girl deserves the awards :o)

  6. This was a good thing for me to read today. I often read blogs which are so well written and so funny and I think I can't possibly compete. But all I really need to do is get better than I have been in the past. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. I wonder if Keith became an artist?

  8. Brilliant philosophy - and it is certainly something I am trying to teach my kids.

  9. J Cosmo made me laugh again. I just love that guy. Wise, wise words Lee. Like Diane, I sometimes wonder why I'm blogging when there are so many brilliant bloggers out there and when so many think a blogging dog is stupid. But I enjoy it. I'm having fun. So why not? I'll remember this post:)

  10. I found I was mediocure at nearly everything and so I decided at some point in my life to simply revel in my bend-of-the-bell-curve-ness and just be me and happy. Well there is that one thing I excell at, but everyone thinks they are good at that.

  11. This comic says it nicely.


  12. to thine own yardstick be true?

    there's such good advice in this post - I shall post that little question (are you better now than you were then?) on my bulletin board and ask it of myself often.

  13. Very sound, Lee, good advice that I would give anyone else. But do I still have to strive to better myself at my age (81)? I'm more about resting on my laurels these days(such as they are).

  14. I always found myself trying to be the best at the workplace. This was easy when you were doing manual labor, but now that I am doing computer programming, I have no way of comparing skills. I now have to examine myself and determine where I want to be professionally and strive toward that.

  15. there is a wonderfully inspirational story the late Nadir Khalili told about finding your own space, but I won't retell it here, too long. Maybe will post it.

    Last year I decided to dance. Never mind that I am middle-aged, overweight and not very flexible. Dancing makes me feel good and dance I will! I've even managed to enjoy watching the beautifully graceful young girls dancing without too much jealousy....

  16. As a first child, I was (and still) always expected to be the best..and I did. I see what you said is true, my younger brother finds niche in things I don't excel: sports and art..and my sister as the third is always left behind in academic and the two areas..she somehow catches up excelling on things we don' IT and has become a very sensitive person; which is why we're so different altogether. But the beauty of it all is we finally found our talents and accept ourselves as we are.

  17. love the quote
    hate the teacher
    that would basically sum up my entire grade and high school experiences.
    thankfully, college was a different story...

  18. i was a victim too when young, why do we always take so long to realize such things?

  19. Bugger the school grades! As the exquisite Oscar (Wilde) said:
    "Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."

  20. Wow.........brilliant post...I got here via Henry the dog.

    What wise words.

  21. Boo to Keith.

    I'm so glad I'm an only child


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