For much of my adult life, I tried to learn to play piano. I’d always had this fantasy of being at a party or local tavern, sitting down to ‘tickle the ivories’ and wowing the crowd with a medley of popular music. When they begged me for one more song, I’d produce some piece of classical so complicated and powerful, that there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house.
Then, of course, the standing ‘o’.
Such a cool fantasy, right?
Here’s the problem: no matter how many times I’ve tried–with lessons or books, upright piano or electric keyboard–I’ve never been able to stick with it. And I know why I never stuck with it. Shameful as it is, it’s because it didn’t come easy. I wanted it to be easy…I wanted it to be fun…I didn’t want it to be a struggle as I fat-fingered the keys making sloppy non-notes that made my ears wish for ear plugs.
So, I decided that the piano wasn’t going to happen. The crowd doesn’t give you a standing ‘o’ for chopsticks. No one cries at “Mary Had A Little Lamb”.
The keyboard was sold at a yard sale. It was a shameful day for me.
No matter, I decided, I’d go back to one of my first loves: painting. So I bought paints, pencils, paper, and sat down cozily with my new fantasy of finding myself the talk of the art world with my stunning paintings. But I found I had nothing to paint, or at the core of it: nothing I wanted to paint.
I gave the art supplies away.
I guess I might have cried a little. Listen, it’s really sad to give up on your fantasies!
Then I thought very hard about the one other thing I could do. The thing I’d done well in high school but had then let go in college: I could write. So, I took a refresher course and started writing short stories and it was easy and fun and absorbing and I loved it. Loved it!
My instructor suggested I send my stories out into the world and they were accepted for publication so quickly, so eagerly, that I knew I’d finally hit on something. I was so encouraged that I started writing books and everyone seems to like them, too, and, I’ll tell you something weird: I don’t have any fantasies associated with it–no dreams of grandeur, no standing ‘o’, nothing crazy–I just want people to read the books and enjoy them. That would be enough.
I can’t play piano, and I probably never will, but I think I’ve found what I can do, and it’s writing.
I hope you all think so, too.