Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The K Factor

1. clumsy, ungraceful, ungainly, lumbering, lubberly. 2. unhandy, unskillful, maladroit, inexpert, bungling, bumbling, heavy-handed, inept.

There are skills I'm actually quite proud to possess. I'm pleased that, although I happen to be tone deaf, I can read music very well. I'm happy with my ability to read intricate and complex material, and to derive meaning from it. I'm awfully glad I'm learning how to balance the check book. It feels superb to have the ability to speak in several other languages...even if it's only conversational phrases. I can bake bread from scratch, teach a large dog to eat delicately from a fork and also have perfect recall of every film I've seen since I went to Mary Poppins. I'm not completely inefficient in the way I run my home, or lax in the I brought up my children. I hope that I'm a good friend, a loving mother and a kind daughter. I can dozens of hats in my life and feel incredibly blessed wearing any of them. I am confident I can meet most challenges with bravery. However, when it comes to walking a flight of stairs or trying to hit a moving ball, I'm a lost cause.

I happen to be a K, not small. My ability to injure myself and those around me is legendary. My method of seeking out the one item to trip over in a room is without failure. My prowess at dropping my tray so often, in my college's cafeteria, was so adept that dropping any tray became known as an Ellen. There is no glass I cannot break, no surface I can't bump into. I am the least coordinated person I have ever met. When I play tennis, people at neighboring courts take cover.When I'm pulling out the garage, I just feel my husband's anxiety in fear that I just might take off another mirror. I'm one of the only people I've ever met that manages to trip going UP the stairs with alarming regularity. When I was in high school, I had a gym teacher pull me aside and ask me to confide in her why I was so bruised. She refused to take "I'm a klutz" for an answer and begged me to be honest if someone was mistreating me. Once she saw my attempt to play soccer, however, she no longer worried that I was in an abusive home. She saw me fall over when there was no one near me. Not even the ball.

As a yoga teacher, I find myself wrestling with my clumsy nature every day. Yet, while I'm practicing yoga, I seem to have an effortless way of moving. It's just off the mat that I struggle. Because this lack of coordination has plagued me my whole life, I've gotten used to being teased about it. I could laugh when my daughter, then at age 8, could ski backwards in front of me, trying to encourage me to get off the baby hill. I could grin the fifth time I fell stepping out of my less than a week. I could even get a good natured chuckle over the times I'd simply drop dinner, not only splattering it all over the kitchen, but smashing my dishes to bits. That said, there times that I've felt truly awful to be such a drain on those around me because of my propensity towards disaster. I felt badly for my teenagers when I've face planted trying to get into bleachers at hockey rinks. I could my husband's ire when I backed through the garage door...and his complete frustration with me over it. I'm sure my mother constantly had to explain to other children why softball was simply not my sport. I've born the utter disgust of people who been forced to play on a team I was on, or to see me humiliate myself in any number of ways. I always seem to find new ones....just to keep life interesting. No one could have predicted that I'd hit my head with a falling iron, as reached down to pick up a shirt that had fallen.

When people are patient with me about my obvious shortcoming, I am eternally grateful. When someone sees me fall, and they offer a hand, rather than stepping over me, I feel slightly less horrified. When, instead of laughing, someone actually asks if I need stitches, I feel touched by their kindness. Why? Because it happens so rarely. As a clumsy person, I am deeply aware of my faults. I seem to find no end to the damage I can inflict. So, when someone is patient, understanding and caring towards me, it comes as a surprise...and a welcome one. I'm always convinced that my accidentally flinging my phone across the room, and hitting someone with it, is going to make enemies for me. My blushing and stammering generally don't help matters much. The kindness that I've been shown, by those who have been hit in the head with said cell phone, is both embarrassing and yet, comforting.

I've learned, as a result of my challenges just standing upright, to look past the challenges other people face. I try to look past the obvious faults and into the heart of the person standing before me. My experience in embarrassment has been life lesson in looking into the way people wish they could be. It is in my own heart to look for the home run a person wishes she could hit or the casual way of giving a speech he hoped he possessed. I try very hard to look past the errors, the fear, the nervousness and the defense mechanisms. I try, for those I meet and those I care about, to see them as their best possible selves. Why? I've been there...curled up at the bottom of the stairs, just hoping no one will notice my misstep. It's with that sense of humility that I try to envision the successes, not the failures, of those around me.

I am still a wretched driver. I constantly worry about slipping on the ice..or on the non-ice surfaces. But, I also try to look past other people's crashes...and into where they hope they will go. Just like my clumsiness, I can't promise that I'll be perfect in my efforts...but I can try.