Are you ever Jelly?

imagesI don’t mean like wibble-wobble-wibble-wobble-Jelly-on-a-plate. Though I do know that kind of jelly after too much dessert grows my muffin top into Mug ‘n Bean size. No, I mean Jelly like when you are Jealous of something, like one of the seven deadly sins kind of thing.

I am.


I don’t get boil-your-bunny kind of Jelly. Hell, I’m too proud for that. Not emotionally evolved of me to admit so bluntly, but I get pissed-off-cross-at-the-unfairness-of-it Jelly. My target? People who can do things I covet (another sin in there too, I’m sure). Things like dance or sing or write or make music or paint or act or draw or sculpt or … create something, anything, beautiful. My jealousy of that bit of wiring that lets them do what they do makes me mad. I know, I know. I can do all of the above, just in varying degrees of awfulness to average. I am Jelly of those others, the competent to the above average to the extraordinary.

The feeling catches me like an unexpected guest that I am used to seeing at the door.

And the twist is that while the Jelly kicks in at the superstars, it’s not at full strength with the Meryl Streep’s of the world. Those types and their talents mostly live on a different planet to me, not quite real enough to be properly jealous of. My worst Jelly is saved for the regular people I know.

Like my husband and my nearly-nine-year-old for example. They look at some sheet music and they move their fingers and they play the piano in a way that makes it all seem effortless. They make music! And because they mostly live on the same planet as me the Jelly tricks me into thinking: Imagine if I could do that! Maybe I can do that? A year or so ago I decided to try. I wouldn’t be as good as them I reasoned, but if I could play a few songs it would be amazing. I would know, even if it was just a tiny bit, how it feels to play a piece and make music. And you know what? I stuck it out for a year and I tried my best, practiced my hardest and still, I was really really bad. So bad that doing scales was my best performance. So bad that I think my teacher was relieved when I decided to stop.

So music is a big trigger but the Jelly is also on quick standby when I read. Right now Amy Gottlieb’s The Beautiful Possible is a love / jelly situation. Like this bit that I love, and it’s not even the best of it

“She says to herself, no one ever tells you that the incessant demands of small children will colonise your brain and make you forget the woman you once believed yourself to be.

She says to herself, no one tells you that you will fall in love with the journey, no matter how unexpected it seems.”

Her words catch me and I think: Imagine being able to write that. To draw in someone’s imagination, to make them understand much more than just the words. And then the Jelly sting. “I could never do that.” And I stop writing, for a little while at least. Sometimes for a long time. It’s not much fun.

Do you ever get Jelly like that? That it makes you stop trying something you love?

It’s taken me a while but I’ve started thinking that Jelly is just a spineless blob of a thing. A bit of a useless dessert that mostly only kids should eat. And like that bit of Mug & Bean muffin hiding under my t-shirt after too much dessert, I will probably never be rid of the Jelly. And I’ve started thinking I must be more choosy about accepting what this unexpected and regular house guest of Jelly brings me.

The good Jelly gift is where it tricks me into trying something new. If I can do even a little bit, it’s enough to get that “Imagine being able to do that” feeling which is totally amazing (hello surfing!). If I am so bad that I know with absolute certainty that I will never “Imagine being able to do that”” (hello piano!) then it does suck. I feel like an idiot.  But in both instances it leaves me with a deep and profound appreciation of those who are good at it. I’ve experienced just a little bit of how hard it is, I understand more of the talent and the skill that they have. I am in awe even though it’s not mine to have, especially because it’s not mine to have. So now my pride in my husband and my son’s playing grows even bigger since I’ve experienced just how hard it is.

The bad Jelly gift is the one that makes me stop what I love doing. It’s awful and it’s a waste of time so that’s the one I’m trying my best to ignore. Truth is that writing makes me happy whether it’s good or not. Ta da! So here I am in blogland.  And you, unlike my poor piano teacher, have the option of listening or not!

Have fun my friends, here’s to eating the good Jelly


PS – thanks for all your comments on the blog last week, it was so great to get feedback. I really appreciated it so much.

PPS – this one is for Sam: told you I wouldn’t blog about you. But dye your hair pink and I might have to…


4 Responses

  1. Loved it. Beautiful to see you do it. Inspiring. Always let the good jelly keep you moving. xxx

  2. Both my kids play piano. One of them did it as an extra subject in matric. How hard can it be, I thought. So I tried to learn. Turns out I can’t make my hands move independently. They just copy each other!

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