The real reason (or one of them, at least) that I have not picked or fine-tuned my New Year’s resolutions, yet, is because I feel pulled in many directions. Yes, I’m embracing the Renaissance Soul idea of exploring more than one interest; however, I know there’s only so many hours in a day. The idea behind embracing the Renaissance Soul life is to choose a few interests now, knowing that more interests can be explored at a later date. My issue? I don’t want to start something I won’t finish. Typically, I feel great satisfaction when finishing a project and this motivates me to complete goals, courses or projects, but there is one particular incident that sticks to my insides.
For years, I played the piano and it was a bit of a love/hate relationship. Usually, it was a love relationship, but I dreaded and hated technique – all those scales, broken chords, arpeggios, etc. They hammered out any confidence I had. They were awful. While working on my undergraduate degree in university, I began – but eventually gave up, working on my grade 9 certification with the Royal Conservatory of Music. A number of years later, I recommenced lessons with a new zeal and determination with the hopes of completing my grade 9 certification. My first recital, after returning, was a success and only cemented the determination with which I began. Ultimately, though, technique crushed my confidence – decimated it, really. The truth was, I had become an insecure performer along the way. I know it sounds silly, but I, honestly, played much better when no one could hear me. (Yes, I know I sound like a person who claims to be invisible as long as no one is in the room.) So…I stopped taking lessons and, with the exception of playing the keyboard at church each week (which is a completely different experience), I stopped playing.
Now, three and a half years later, I still experience waves of regret. This past summer, I visited a bookstore in a small town, while on vacation, numerous times. On one of those visits, I stopped at a shelf that housed numerous music books including some Royal Conservatory of Music books and I was overwhelmed with that old feeling. Was I failure? I struggle knowing that I had begun, again, with a determination to prevail and had quit. Of course, there were other circumstances. My piano teacher moved to a town that changed my commute from a 15 minute drive to a 50 minute drive each way and then she retired. At the same time, I had changed jobs and was feeling overwhelmed by the heavier workload. Yet, I don’t pay much mind to those circumstances. They were excuses.
Every so often I am kept awake ruing the day I let it all slip away because I did let it slip away. When I quit my lessons, I was so full of that feeling of failure that I stopped playing my pieces – the pieces that I loved and practised for hours. Of course, I’ve played them a handful of times since then, but I trip over notes and my fingers have (mostly) lost their tactile memory for those pieces. I’ve had a recurring dream over the last decade and a half about owning pets I didn’t realize I owned and inadvertently starving them, as a result. (That dream is actually a complete nightmare, as you can imagine.) Sadly, I think that recurring dream relates to neglecting interests and talents.
Over the last little while, I’ve been waking up to the notion that I don’t necessarily need lessons to grow. Of course, those lessons were so important, initially, and I have a great respect for my piano teacher and her techniques. She was a great influence. However, until recently, I had convinced myself that the only way I could learn, or even play, was when I received direct instruction, regularly.
Knowing I was going to a piano lesson each week was a great motivator, but an extrinsic one. I paid little heed to my intrinsic motivator – that determination to continue no matter the circumstances and the voice of One who said, “You are able.” Where does that leave me now? I have to dust off old dreams and replace old ideals with new thoughts. I’m returning to my old love. I have to begin, again.