No Passions

No one in my family is musical. Even the one person who used to be an actor, while he could sing, wasn’t really “musical,” in the sense that he could go to a party and sit down at a piano and pick out tunes that everyone knew. I think of this lack not only as unfortunate but as a deficit in my character. I took piano lessons for many miserable years and the notes on the scale might as well have been Arabic. My husband’s family didn’t even try, although he stoutly insisted, when we met, that air guitar was a real instrument. In my turn, I tried to give my children piano and then violin lessons but they had no aptitude for it either. The one legacy that “the piano teacher” left to our family was a handy way to refer to someone who had very peculiar hair, who had dyed it but then repented and let it grow very long with the top bits being gray and the bottom bits faded red. (“She had hair like the piano teacher,” we say to each other and everyone can instantly summon the mental photo.) No one in my family, further, is athletic. They are all healthy and have no problems maintaining a good weight; they run sometimes and do yoga and other kinds of things for muscles and flexibility. But we were never those parents in the stands at the field or the rink bawling out their own aggression – and frankly, those parents terrified us. My children are not “bookish,” which is a trial for me as an author who has friends whose children not only comment on their books-in-progress but collaborate on them. They read what they need to read and get fine grades; but they don’t consider books the equivalent of oxygen, as I do. What are they? They are good, passionately fair. They are happy. That’s a talent too.

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