Excluding the ones my son played in elementary and middle school, I can count on one hand the number of football games I’ve watched. To be clear, I have been present more times than I can remember when football was being broadcast on a television screen and the people I was with were actively engaged in the game and I was just there for the camaraderie.
My father watched football on Saturday afternoons, which I remember only because I had to wait until the games ended for us to do something together, just for fun (trips to Zayre and the food court stand out as favorites). Impatient to go do something fun, I would look at the clock on the screen, see that there were only two minutes left in the game and start getting ready to leave. That’s how I learned the difference between real time and football time.
At a Superbowl party when I was in my 20s I confessed to a friend that I didn’t understand a single thing about the game. “It’s easy,” he said. “The team that wins the toss gets four tries to move the ball 10 yards toward their goal. If they don’t make it in four tries, then the other team gets a turn.”
I know; I know. The game is a lot more complicated than that. Then again, it isn’t.
That friend’s kind explanation was the ticket for me to participate more actively in football-focused gatherings. I didn’t really watch the games, having zero interest in the sport, but I enjoyed being with people who watched the games.
When my son played, briefly, in his youth, I dutifully followed him around, camera in hand, from field to field. I still understood very little about the game. I cared about it only because he cared about it, and I cared about him.
What’s important to my children is important to me, so I’ve become accustomed to practicing the art of paying attention to things I would otherwise have little or no interest in. Like any other practice — yoga, art, writing, cooking — this one is an ongoing development.
Sometimes the practice yields unexpected excitement, as it did yesterday, watching Tennessee beat Alabama in the last two seconds of a game I actually watched (and sort of understood?) and texting back and forth with my son, who was in the stadium’s sea of orange.
(Go. Big. Orange.)
He FaceTimed after the game so I could share in the celebration, a joyful reward in every way.
I was thinking, afterward, of how practice sometimes leads to growth that is different from the initial goal. How the mere practice of practicing something, anything, is beneficial. Practicing builds mental and emotional muscle, especially when the end result is kind of fuzzy.
Much of my life has been dedicated to practice. Piano practice. Play practice. Sports practices. Practicing art. Building a mental health and well-being practice.
“Practice” is an idea that was on my mind all day yesterday as I worked on this weekend’s update to the Larksome Goods site. I’ve been practicing Photoshop editing, SEO writing, and online platform navigation.
Where will it lead, ultimately? Not sure yet. But the practice is enjoyable, and that is enough for now.
About the work below:
As I wrote to the Larksome List followers earlier today, I’ve been thinking about a woman, a friend of my mother’s (and mine) who has four sets of slipcovers for the furniture in her den, and a closet full of art and trinkets that cover a wide range of styles. When she needs a change of outlook (or change of season), she simply swaps the furniture covers, art and trinkets for a new look. It’s not actually new-new; she’s not buying new things, just swapping out to give things a freshening up.
I’ve always loved that idea, even though it drove my kids crazy when I would rearrange the furniture (something I haven’t done in way too long).
I was thinking about how a few simple pieces of art, even inexpensive reproductions in inexpensive frames, can change the entire feeling of a space. In that spirit, I launched the first batch of reproduction prints on my Larksome Goods site. There are two kinds of images, in this initial collection: reproductions of my paintings and illustrations, and re-creations of vintage botanical art (so, digital art, original to me).
And no, those aren’t photos of my actual house. I’ll never have a house that tidy. And although I could have tidied up spaces in my real house, shot interior scenes with my own camera, and used Photoshop to manipulate them to showcase the images, time is my most precious commodity, and buying a mock-up template saved hours and hours. But I still got to practice my Photoshop skills. See how that works?
P.S. I’m also still practicing in the kitchen, with Hungryroot groceries. Still having fun with that and playing with making my own Almond Chickpea cookie dough. When I get it right, I’ll share what I’ve learned.