For some reason, I grew up with very little self-confidence. If I were unwilling to do something, Mother would do it for me. Why try? Early in my life, my family learned that I had some musical talent. Perhaps I could show self-confidence there, and I did. My parents bought a piano for me, purchasing it from a widow lady who was eager to get rid of it as was her spinster daughter. Who could have known that my mother would die, my dad would marry the “spinster daughter” who would come to dwell in our home where she had to put up once again with the heinous piano. That piano was both my bane and my blessing as I suffered the pangs of ridicule from those who were athletic rather than musically talented. In my little southern home town, a young man HAD to participate in sports. Sports held no interest for me. In order to avoid teasing, I was allowed to be quietly interested in music. In order to prove myself, I went out for every sport and excelled at none. I went to the wrong huddle once on the football team. After basketball practice, we had to shoot so many hoops before we could leave. The coach would finally say, “Cooper, go home.” Occasionally my musical talent would be recognized, and I would be spotlighted. However, in my mind, I was never good, ignoring the praise of my piano teacher and my band director, for whom I eventually played the clarinet. Even when I was selected to go to the All State band and was awarded first chair clarinet in college, I knew my limitations. When it finally came to a choice between becoming a hermit in the college practice rooms or having a social life, a social life took precedence, and I dropped my music major. Now in my senior years, it is so nice to enjoy sports on TV while playing the organ and piano occasionally in church. No one ridicules me for not playing football now.
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