Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I sold my piano, and maybe a piece of my soul.

My piano is officially sold. After months of having it listed I finally accepted that I would have to let it go for a reasonable price. It sold the day I lowered the price.

The day the movers came I sat down and muddled my way through some favorite pieces, acknowledging that I can't even play the piece that got me accepted to the University of Utah Piano Performance program. Can't even play it to vaguely resemble what it's supposed to sound like.

I realized, or maybe accepted, that I will never play that well again. Sure, that's obvious, but in the back of my mind I would always think, maybe when the kids are grown I will take lessons again and build up my dexterity and practice scales and Hannon for hours a day again and become better than I ever was. Possibly there's something about selling your first and last baby grand piano that makes you realize those days are never coming back.

When I was studying music, I always hesitated to tell people that was my major, out of fear they would ask me play and upon hearing me wonder how I had ever gotten in. Now when people find out I play, just that I play, a hot flash of embarrassment practically knocks me over when they say, "oh, play something," because I think they will be disappointed. Truly, the one who is disappointed is me.

I just finished reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, who forced her daughters to practice piano hours a day because as she puts it "Nothing is fun, until you're good at it." I actually found myself wishing I had a tiger mother who had forced me to practice. I played for hours when I was kid because I loved the sound of the piano. It forced me not to worry about anything else as I focused on getting the notes right. Even though I am competitive, I didn't have the drive, or a parent driving me to play for excellence, I always played to escape whatever was bothering me at the time. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I should have known it wouldn't have led me to greater improvement.

I did swim team for the same reason. I loved to swim. But somehow it never bothered me that I was the slowest person on our team. I always did what the coaches asked, and swam as fast as I could, but I knew I would never be great at it, and I was okay with that. So it doesn't make sense that it bothers me so much knowing I always played for enjoyment, but wasn't that great at it. I think it's the knowing that if I had continued to practice I would always get better, there was no limit to improvement, but with swimming, I could only go as fast as my arms would move, no matter how hard I pushed, there was a limit to what I could do in a pool.

As I get older, I think I've learned to cast off all inflated ideas about myself. I have to be enough for me, not for any other person, and if I'm happy with where I'm at, nobody can tell me otherwise. My focus is no longer on practicing piano, or swimming, or anything else I did when I was young, well except maybe writing, or I wouldn't be blogging today. And I'm happy about that.

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