Sunday, February 12, 2012

Silence and music

I must lead with an apology (both to my readers and to myself) because this marks the longest that I have gone without writing in... well, months, really.

I'm busy, but I don't think I can objectively claim that I am busier now than I was this past fall. I wish I could articulate what I've been thinking and feeling, but honestly I am not even sure I know.

------------2 hours later---------------

As the line directly above suggests, I'm writing this paragraph several hours after starting this post. Sitting down to write, and then being faced with my failure to keep up with a routine that I love was terribly frustrating. The more I tried to write about what I was feeling, the more upset I became. Eventually, I put my computer down, grabbed my jacket and went outside. I didn't know where I was going, I just knew I needed to get out. In this case, "getting out" brought me to school (no, the irony was not lost on me, and yes, my roommate did laugh when he heard that I went to school). I didn't want to work, though---couldn't even begin to think about work. Instead, I sat down at the piano in my classroom and played for an hour.

I took piano lessons for most of my elementary and middle school years; I wasn't stellar; my practice habits were abysmal. Since I quit in 7th grade, most of my interactions with the piano were spent playing by ear, plucking out tunes that I knew.

Tonight, for maybe the second time since I gave up lessons, I sat down and sight-read a song, and then practiced that song. Granted, it was a simple song ("Gift of Finest Wheat") from a hymn-book that I had handy , and I only taught myself the right-hand part, but it was the most focused practice that I'd put in on the piano in nearly 13 years.

I played the part over and over again until I was playing with about 90% accuracy at tempo, and could sing along as I played. It took a while to get to that point. I made a lot of dumb mistakes. My hands often felt uncoordinated and clumsy on the keys, especially early on. However, it wasn't frustrating at all. Maybe I'd already hit my limits for frustration this evening. Instead, I found myself unwinding and calming down as I played, practiced, learned. The final time through, I made 2 or 3 mistakes, but kept singing and playing without stopping and I felt a very real sense of peace surround me.

I'm no closer to understanding why I am not allowing myself more time to write, but I have discovered that a) my recent failure to write really bothers me and b) even with my limited abilities as a musician, I am still able to pour my stress and frustration out onto the keyboard (even if it might not happen to be a computer keyboard in the form of an essay but the piano keyboard in the form of a song).

I feel like I've said this a lot in my recent posts, but I need to take care of myself. I repeat it because I don't feel like I've followed through all that well, or really taken my own advice. I'm working myself too hard and not nurturing any part of who I am but the side of me that works. I need to seek out what it looks like to do my job faithfully and to be a teacher at all times without actually physically burying myself in my work (which I feel like I am starting to do). God, give me strength and wisdom.

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