Tales from the Gutter

The 8 y.o. had been clamouring to go bowling, so one Sunday afternoon we did just that.

It was an all-girl game, as hubby preferred to relax with a cappuccino and spectate.

Halfway through the first game, it was pretty clear who was leading.


(The youngest.)

Who bowled the fastest balls.

(The oldest.)

And who seriously needed to lift her game. (Ahem.)

The 8 yo made encouraging noises every time Mummy managed to knock down a pin. At one point, she kindly suggested that perhaps I needed automated guard rails like hers, to keep my ball from rolling in the gutter.

Feeling sorry for me, hubby jumped on twice to help lift my score. Lock your wrist and hand, he said. Only move the elbow, go low, lower your right leg.

For someone who has never been sporty, having to follow instructions that require physical coordination is like asking me to … Let’s just say it’s info and sensory overload, okay?

But I listened, and modified my stance the next time, and the next time.

I began to find my stride, and went from 9 misses in the first game to 6 in the second. One lucky strike in the middle of the second game, and suddenly I was 18 points ahead.

The tide had turned.


On the way home, it struck me that the lessons of the bowling alley can be applied to life and work too:

  1. When we’re doing something we’re not naturally good at or don’t do very often, it’s normal for the ball to go in the gutter most of the time. Accept it, but don’t stay there.
  2. Some of us are late bloomers. The important thing is to rise above the disappointment and self-criticism, stay in the game, and never give up. Your moment will come, and it will be all the more glorious, because no one expected it. “The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.”
  3. Everyone gets a second chance. Use it well.
  4. If something is not working for you, adjust your strategy and try again. Repeat enough times, until you figure out what works for you.
  5. A slow ball can knock down just as many pins as a fast ball. It just takes longer and is less exciting to watch. Don’t be too quick to judge someone (including yourself) for taking more time or doing things differently.
  6. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you are automatically better at doing something. Conversely, just because you’re a child doesn’t mean you can’t teach an adult a thing or two. (Just ask my kids.) I use this to teach my kids that ability is something we work on and acquire through practice and experience, as well as natural talent. It is not something that is fixed and permanent. (For more, check out Carol Dweck’s TED Talk on growth mindsets.)