Friday, September 11, 2009
If you had to come up with one little thing that would make your life better, what would it be?
Repeat, little thing, not big thing. I recently read this idea about teeny tiny changes and thought the chances of something small making a difference are only that, small. Nevertheless, I thought I would give it a whirl and my little thing would be to spend 15 minutes a day on piano.
The backstory is I started playing piano several years ago on a whim. I had taken it as a child and hated it. My piano teacher, Mrs. Coon had breath that smelled like feet. She used to press her bony fingers down hard on top of my hands as I played. Apparently she was going to put piano into me by force. The only good thing about going to Mrs. Coon’s house was riding the school bus there and getting to watch TV while my brother had his lesson first.
The practice lasted until my mom could no longer afford it and I was all to glad to be done with Mrs. Coon. Fast forward about 30 years. A friend and I were having a conversation about regrets. We were asking each other if we died today, what would be our greatest regret for not having done in this lifetime. Without hesitation, I said “piano.”
It shocked me that it came out. Somewhere in the dusty attic of my soul, this deep longing to play piano showed up. The truth was that I loved piano, I didn’t love the way I learned it. I wanted to be good at something that was hard, that took practice, using a totally different side of my brain. For me, there is a complete undoing that happens when I listen to stunning piano music. Like combing through the ratty parts of my spirit, piano somehow tapped into hidden, lost places.
I longed to play, to be able to read music, to sit down and hammer out a jubilantly spirited tune. To be like a movie during the holidays, where friends and family gather around a beautiful baby grand, belting out Christmas carols as I accompany on the piano.
So I began the piano, or pseudo-return to my childhood over three years ago. At first it was fun, really really fun. I found a fantastic young piano teacher who was spirited, yet challenging. She would clap and sing along as I heartily played the Mexican Hat Dance. It was a blast. But as I progressed in my lessons, it got hard. As you know, anything worth doing, is hard. And I noticed it became harder and harder to find time to practice. Without meaning to, piano was sliding out of my life.
In my heart I wanted to keep going, but it required more effort than I had planned. As I read about the tiny changes, I immediately thought about piano. If I set aside 15 minutes a day, which is not very much time, I would at least make an effort. Fifteen minutes is nothing, it’s a cup of coffee, a trip to the bathroom, a flip through a magazine – I could handle 15 minutes.
I found that once I got started in my 15 minutes of fame, I was lost in it. All I wanted to do was keep going. Ticking off my 15 minutes soon turned to 30 minutes and I looked forward to my time just to play each day.
Seriously, you may be wondering, what is the point of this piano? Nothing really other than sure pleasure. This is my time to do something completely ridiculous and lovely all for me. I’m not going to be a concert pianist anytime soon, but Christmas caroling parties might be in my future. It shows that I have a passion that I'm not afraid to put to use, however ridiculous. It’s certainly a much better use of my time than Facebook.
The beauty of it is that it only takes 15 minutes – or at least that is what I tell myself. But those 15 minutes are probably one of the best parts of my day. It's ironic to me that to do the things we love, we have to fool ourselves into it. Fooling or not, this small is big to me.