Endless Aquisition

I went ice-skating this past weekend at Schenley Park.  There were little kids bravely face-planting, couples trying to hold each other up, hoards of  10-year-olds celebrating a birthday, and a scattering of cocky teenage hockey players who could probably skate better than walk.

I imagined how it would feel to be able to fly so effortlessly on the ice.  Man, wouldn’t that just be so cool?  The steps to get there were clear, probably very similar to how it felt to learn guitar.  First, you flail about trying to simply survive in unfamiliar waters without too much embarrassment.  Your footing stabilizes somewhat as you get a feel for what you’re doing, and eventually you’re holding your own pretty well.  Nothing fancy, sure, but you don’t face-plant nearly as often.  In your braver moments you try something new, perhaps failing several times, but eventually getting the hang of it with enough practice and effort.  The idea of how cool it would be to look like a pro keeps you going.  With hours and hours of practice, you become more adept until you can hardly remember what it felt like to not know how to do this.  Motions are effortless and automatic.  And now you finally have reached your goal.  You have a new way to feel superior to others in order to paint over the underlying ache of vulnerability.  You can fly around others in circles, throwing in some “look-what-I-can-do”s every now and then in case they don’t immediately notice your awesomeness.  They wish they were you.

Despite how painfully ridiculous this feels, it seems to be what happens when learning any skill.  I still find myself throwing in show-off moves in guitar lessons with my students.  Aside from having a means of making a living, however, this particular skill I have doesn’t really make me any better off than before.  I’m no less vulnerable.  I’m no more likable.  How could adding more of these skills ever end the longing for Home?