Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pride and Prejudice, Stubborness and Impatience

There is a scene in Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice in which Elizabeth Bennet is playing the piano forté at the great house of Lady Catherine De Bourgh. Elizabeth’s playing is good, but not dazzling. Mr. Darcy is watching her play, and they tease each other for their various faults. Elizabeth accuses Darcy of not dancing enough at a recent ball, to which he replies that he is, “ill qualified to recommend himself to strangers.”

Elizabeth responds: “My fingers do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women’s do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have only supposed it to be my own fault—because I would not take the trouble of practicing.”

This exchange in the story is a pivotal moment, and is central to the entire theme of the book. It has always held me in rapture because Austin has not only created an instant where two characters, seemingly in jest, connect on a profound level, but it gets at something universally human.

For my own part, I try my hand at a great many things. I fail at nearly as many, but I persist in trying. It’s true that I view recipes as mere suggestions. Ask me to assemble something and I’ll start by throwing away the instructions. I dive in to things where others hesitate and measure and second guess themselves. Don’t confuse my behavior with confidence; it’s more a mixture of stubbornness and impatience.

I once heard a saying, where your energy goes, success will follow. I’ve learned that if someone struggles in learning something new, it isn't necessarily some lack of talent, but because he truly doesn’t wish to learn it.

And so it is with Accounting. After two hours of homework this morning, with historic and artistic thoughts of Luca Pacioli, I’m beginning to understand it. Look at me doing spreadsheets.


Pamela Tierney said...

I agree with you for the most part; however, I do feel that each of us has at least one subject which he/she simply cannot master no matter how much effort is given, nor desire to comprehend. My own weakness is math, and I've struggled to understand it since grade school. I've studied and done my work only to fail miserably or pass with mediocre grades. I have given effort to the point of tears, anxiety, and the intense desire to hurl my textbook through a closed window (I nearly did one time). This fall, I will once again attempt to understand Algebra for the sake of a career goal. Perhaps I'm setting myself up, but I already question what my level of success will be, given my past attempts. I'm hoping that this time will be different and this math will finally make sense.

Rita Finn said...

I appreciate and understand what you are saying, and I tend to exagerrate my point ocaissionally.
It sounds like you too are an adult non-traditional student. It is hard enough taking classes and working at a full-time job, never mind struggling with a class you already feel anxiety about.
I too was born without the math gene. Though I'v always generally gotten good grades, I've learned to accept less-than-perfect scores in my math classes. My hope for you is that you make it through the fall quarter without breaking any windows, and that you reward yourself nicely every time you complete an assignment. Good luck and thanks for visiting!

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