Sunday, November 29, 2009

Forever Grateful

I love how life expands and contracts over time. I meet new people. I get myself into new situations. I continually expose myself to new experiences. I like some of the new experiences so much that I want to keep them alive forever, recreating them over and over. Other experiences fall into the first-and-last-time category. Once is more than enough. Never again is perfect.

But let me tell you: I do not believe in the concepts of "forever" and "never" (or "one time only"). I only use these words to express my enthusiasm or lack of enthusiasm for an experience in the moment. In the end they say nothing about what I will actually do in the future.

Enthusiasm Passing By
The other day we were talking about the first records that we bought. I remember vividly that I was twelve years old and bought an LP of the Dolly Dots after being introduced to them by a new friend named Tanja. She and her older sister had been to a live concert and were true fans. They had all the records and their rooms were covered with posters of these women dressed in bright neon colors.

Inspired by their excitement, my love of dancing and my love of good music to dance to, I dove headlong into the music. With my very limited English skills, I tried to learn all the songs by heart, listening to the record over and over and over. This also made a deep impression on my brother who still can (perhaps not so fondly) remember the persistence with which I replayed the songs. I knew that I would love this music forever!

But over time my taste in music changed and the Dolly Dots were replaced in my teenage years by music like 10cc, Spandau Ballet, the Doors, Neil Young and Joe Cocker. I changed, my environment changed, my choices changed, and I moved on to other things in life. Goodbye Dolly Dots!

Grateful or Not
When I was eleven years old, the school system started to teach me English, French and German. At that age, I did not even understand Dutch at an advanced level; mixing it with with other languages was very confusing. I would use French words in English, German words in French etc. I hated these classes. And I especially wasn’t fond of my English teacher who was a hothead and seemed not to understand that kids like me were not following the class. I got low grades for my language classes, and I never learned to like my English teacher.

When I moved to the USA, I started to be really grateful for my education in English. Even though I still had a lot to learn, the basics given to me by this teacher were enough to make myself understandable. It was also a great basis from which to expand my skills. In Cambridge, I took English classes designed for foreigners and I am still improving my skills today.

At this point in my life, I am grateful to be able to express myself in this blog. From that perspective, you could say that I am grateful for the teachers I have had. But if you were to ask me for which teacher in English I am most grateful, my answer would not be the grade school teacher or my first teacher here in the US. The teachers for whom I am most grateful are people whose use of the English language has deeply inspired me, writers and musicians. In fact, right now, the single person for whom I am most grateful is my husband who is an inspired force in inspiring me to consistently develop my skills to a higher level.

Grateful Forever
I make up that most of us have experiences comparable to mine above. You have been really excited about something and then it passed, or things you didn’t appreciate became more appreciated over time as you gained perspective. You might even start to do gratitude for things you never even considered to be gratifying.

I think this makes us humans very interesting. We change our minds, our thoughts and our feelings regularly over time, and in some instances can go completely from one side of the scale to the other.

This is why I do not believe in 'forever' and 'never'. Too often my 'never' becomes 'sometimes' which in turn can become 'forever'. And of course, my 'forever' can slide right into 'never!' without much effort at all.

In the end, they both say nothing about what I will be doing in the future! They only say how I am feeling in the moment.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Read, smile, think and post a message to let us know how this article inspired you...