Friday, November 18, 2011

A Promise and A Class Journal

I have promised a friend that I would write here about my take on The Big Read, a writers' event in Wichita, Kansas, that featured a lecture by Tim O'Brien.  And I will!  Just not in this posting... 

For now I would like to simply share a journal that is under consideration for inclusion in my class portfolio.  It was written for class, in response to a question about the power of language as an inspiration.  As I decide on them, I may include more entires for the portfolio here. 


It was two weeks before the piano recital—my piano recital, and I was in a lesson.  I could feel my breath catch as my mind took me back just a few days; again, my heart pounded, as I stumbled with trembling fingers through a piece I was playing for an audience of only one friend.  Snapping back to the present, I deliberately forced myself to take a deep breath, and placed my hands on the keys again.  This time I refused to fail. 
I did not know it then, but there was a principle I would learn that very day, before the lesson ended, that would change my life.    It is a lesson that still re-echoes through my mind with my teacher’s voice: “You’re not going to change anyone’s perception of you, no matter how or what you do on that stage.  The people who love you will still love you, and the people who hate you will still hate you.” 

There was nothing that I needed more at that time.  I had always been concerned with what other people thought of me, and had always been sensitive to criticism, but on this occasion, all that I could think about was what my teacher and my parents, if they came, would think.  What if I failed?  Or froze and could not play?  I had never played at a true piano event like that before. 
Her words occupied my thoughts all the way home.  She was right.  The performance was not what mattered.  What mattered was the fact that I did have people who cared about me.  How I did would not really change their opinions of me, or make anyone think less of me.  Inspired by her words, I began to invite my friends and those I knew to attend, including my Tutor, who due to distance, listened over the cellphone.  I was freed to relax and enjoy the moment; I really could live in the moment rather than for the moment. 

When the day of the piano recital arrived, I was not nearly as nervous as I had expected.  My morning and the time before passed pleasantly in the company of my friend, Melisa, who was also performing that day, and when the time finally came, I was able to enjoy performing.  And when I did mess up, was able to recover beautifully rather than freeze.  I believe this was because my thoughts were no longer focused on the opinions of others, but on the personal enjoyment of an opportunity to perform.  Now I have a very fond memory to return to, of a time when I realized that I really had the full support of my family and friends—of those who really mattered—no matter what might happen. 

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