Our local agricultural extravaganza, the Woodstock Fair, opens on Friday. Thousands of people will flock to view horse and cattle shows and gaze with admiration at the delicious pies and cakes, stunning photos, and astounding crafts on display. Ribbons will be awarded proudly proclaiming, “Best of Show.” I have great admiration for those who have worked hard toward earning those accolades.
But today I want to celebrate those of us who will never win first prize, those of us who, despite our best efforts, will never make it to the winners’ circle. By definition, there can only be a limited number of “winners” in the traditional sense. Today I would like to honor those who participate in a hobby, join a team, or experiment with a new activity not because they will ever be the “best” but simply because it brings them joy.
I want to celebrate the ability to be gloriously, joyfully adequate.
I play the piano. You will never hear me play because I am really bad. But it brings me joy and provides me a few moments to separate myself from daily worries as I focus on reading notes to create a simple melody. No one would want to listen, but it amuses me. I am a joyfully adequate piano player.
The same thing is true with my yoga practice, where I inhabit the “beginners” class even after ten years of faithful attendance. I suspect I have found my niche. I may not get “better,” but I like how I feel when I participate. I am a joyfully adequate yogi.
Knitting falls in the same category. One might think that after two decades of knitting, I would be creating intricate designs and deftly folding cable knits into cardigans. The reality is that my knitting is limited to the simplest patterns. But my basic knitting creates prayer shawls and prayer shawls can remind recipients that they are surrounded by God’s love. My knitting is joyfully adequate and yet it can provide hope and comfort.
There is a lot of pressure on children (and adults) to be “the best.” Of course everyone should strive to produce their own best effort. But there is also great power in pursuing an activity not because we are “the best” but simply because it allows our spirits to soar. We may not be proficient but we may encounter the joy of being immersed in an activity that lifts our spirits or calms our busy minds. That’s a blessing.
I attended a workshop years ago entitled, “What makes your heart sing?” The presenter encouraged participants to explore a wide variety of activities without the burden of comparing the outcome to everyone else. What joy! I don’t have to be the “best.” If this activity – music, hiking, cooking, art, writing, whatever it is – feeds my spirit, that is what I can do.
I may not win a ribbon and my name may not be recorded in the winner’s circle, but I can celebrate the joy of being gloriously adequate.