Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Learning to Whistle

My sister told me a couple of days ago that my five-year-old niece Mariah was discovering the art of whistling.
For whatever reason, the memory of the first time I whistled is perfectly clear in my mind.  I was five years old, sitting in the middle of the floor in my brother's room.  We had a lot of extended family over so there was a lot of noise coming from the kitchen.  My brother, Kiel, was trying to teach me how to whistle.  After several fruitless attempts, Kiel left to rejoin everyone else in the kitchen, but I remained sitting in the middle of the room, trying and trying to blow just the right way to produce the desired effect.  After what seemed like hours of trying (really, it was probably only a half-hour at the most), I stopped trying and just sat there, disappointed in myself and thinking that I was born to be an utter failure.

But out of the darkness (well, as dark as things can get for a five year old) came the thought that every single one of my family members could whistle.  My Dad was practically known throughout the neighborhood for his whistling capabilities, since he whistled everywhere he went: around the house, in the supermarket, while taking the trash out, etc.  My little five-year-old brain put two and two together and came to the conclusion that if my older siblings could do it, so could I.  Not five minutes later, I was whistling the beginning notes of Mary Had a Little Lamb.

And that's how I came to be the whistling fiend that I am today.  Adults who have yet to whistle a note have asked me how I do it.  And I can honestly say that I still, to this day, have no idea how it works.  I didn't learn how to whistle.  I just discovered that I could.  It sounds kind of cliche but it reminds me of the children's story, The Little Engine That Could.  At first the task of getting up and over the mountain seemed impossible.  But through diligence and perseverance despite seemingly insurmountable odds, the little engine began to believe he could pull that heavy load over that mountain, and so he did.

Sometimes we don't know how things are going to work out.  And sometimes it seems like the odds are never in our favor.  But even when that insurmountable mountain looms before us, there is a power in believing in ourselves that will give us the strength to overcome.

I once sat in the middle of the floor, miserably thinking that I was not blessed with the ability to whistle.  But my determination to conquer outweighed my weakness, and that has made all the difference.

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