There’s This Little Thing Called “Learning…”

Why is it so natural for me to think that I just OUGHT to have everything figured out?

Since the unexpected death of stepfather last month, I am determined to do everything I’ve always wanted to but put off due to my nerves, idealist dreams of perfection, or sheer laziness. My force-of-nature cousin recently shared a post on her Instagram page—a variation of the Michael Landon quote:

“Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.”

Boy, do I know it.

That’s why at 6:30 on a Wednesday evening, I found myself sweaty and out of breath from sprinting from work —to the subway— to what was to be my first Spanish conversation class in three years. Since childhood I’ve dreamed of travelling around the world…and in that fantasy I always knew at least two other languages besides English.

Sure, I’d taken the recommended language courses in high school and college—Spanish, of course—totally enamored with the mind-expanding richness that comes with learning new forms of communication. However, I rarely tried to strengthen my skills outside of class by conversing with a native speaker.

No, no, no. I was far too embarrassed by my gringa accent (among other things) for that.

Kind of like buying a fabulous new outfit and never taking it out of your closet for fear of how others will perceive you in it. Silly, right? (Heh, but I’m guilty of that too…)

Connecting my thoughts in Spanish once more proved to be difficult, but not as hard as I had figured considering the time gap in my training. Yes, everything was A – OK. Until it wasn’t.

The course instructor handed out a worksheet for us to complete and discuss the answer in roughly ten minutes. I looked down in horror —

“I’m afraid I don’t know any of these words,” I mumbled when it was time for the review.

“There’s this thing called ‘learning,’ you know,” he said gently.

I laughed. My classmates laughed. He laughed too, which only made me laugh harder, until the lightness of the room induced a roaring guffaw in me that arose from deep within my spiritual core.

He was right. And it was such an obvious fact, at that! Actually, he hadn’t expected any of us to know the words on the sheet.

After that life lesson wrapped in an academic one, I pushed the envelope. Two days later, as uncoordinated as I am, I walked into a beginner’s hip hop class.

The me before these experiences last week would have described my performance that night as a disaster. Just as I was about to lose heart in the class, my effervescent teacher fell into a spell of sharing too much information—a trait that she proudly laughs off.

“My therapist told me, and I’ve been seeing a therapist for a quite a number of years, there are three skills every human being should possess…in essence,” she said.

“The ability to (1) love, (2) be productive, and (3) be okay with uncertainty.”

I always count it a blessing when I meet people who are free enough to be so candid about their lives with complete strangers. There is always a tiny gift hidden inside their truth. From that moment, I was able to deal with the inevitable uncertainty of the choreography from lack of dance training while learning to be present in the moment. I now reflect fondly on my first dance-class-turned-therapy-session.

I look forward to the day when my walk to the studio becomes a strut.

Vamos a bailar en la vida!

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