Please Don’t Start

Please don’t tell me I’m strong. I can’t believe it when dishes are cluttering up the sink, clothes are strewn around my room, 30 urgent emails go unanswered, and I’m not talking to one of my best friends.

I can’t help dwelling on that one negative comment even when there are a hundred positive ones on my blog.

At a coffee shop, I am scrolling through Facebook for someone to hire.

I need help.

Two weeks before launching my event, someone begged me to stop.
It was poison for a girl who was coughing up blood.

I’ve thought about slipping to spaces where music is too loud and phone calls are impossible, but that would be socially unacceptable. What is socially acceptable is people telling you what to do and who to be, because apparently you’re too thick-headed to think for yourself.

What I’ve learned is that success takes conviction; if you believe in what you’re doing, you have a duty in seeing that your vision plays out to the very end.

Own your ideas because no one else will.

Please don’t let anyone force you into living by deadlines.

Sitting in front of me is a man with salt-and-pepper hair in a white business shirt. From the corner of my eye, his arm is rubbing the table in time with the music, and it dawns on me that he is the most interesting DJ I’ve ever met.

I forget that he arrived in a wheelchair.

I should be at home changing for an event, but I want to hear the rest of his mix. He can’t stay still, whirling his wheelchair around the shop. I smile, and if we meet again, I might say, “I love the way you work that chair, like you’re dancing all the time.”

Please don’t tell me what I like to do.

Sometimes I find people to work with through Twitter– the quickest way to read a person’s personality and get in touch. I’m talking to an absurdly cocky guy who probably has big thumbs.

“Wanna teach me piano?” He asks.
“Do you have a piano?” I say, “I’m expensive.”
“I could pour you a glass of water,” he says.
“I thought you wanted to be a cop,” I say. “That’s not even minimum wage; you could get arrested.”

Over the phone, he rattles off the songs he’s learning; there’s one by Robin Thicke, a piano interlude. It never occurs to him that he can play any melody on the piano.

Truly a beginner.

I have a week break coming up and I could spend 30 minutes helping him fix his beginner pianist mistakes — like, he’s probably not curving his fingers. Entrepreneurs help each other all the time.
I don’t know why I want to take precious time from my break to help this person; maybe because I can’t imagine my own life without piano.

Over the next few days, I tell him when I’m in the area and ask when he’s free, but he doesn’t respond in time. I feel like a loan shark. I show the texts to Megz, and she says, “I’d be flattered.”

In the end, I get cross; sometimes risks don’t play out and this tiny risk was a mess. At least I get a story for my blog. That is, unless my editor cuts it out.

Please don’t tell me I’m strong.

I don’t know how to tell my piano student that I’m leaving. I’m referring her to my mentor but it’s not like I won’t miss her when I return. She’s delightful and I’ve come to enjoy the time where we discuss piano and school together each week.

I don’t know what makes some days harder than others.
You know what I mean. The tiniest issues bubble to the surface and each person you encounter seems to be tossing sand into your eye.

Let’s get real here.

Music pushes us in every way. It makes us spend hours alone in a practice room, or trying to convince our parents that this discipline is just as important as soccer, or crying tears of frustration after walking offstage.

It becomes glaringly obvious that we’re not perfect.

And maybe deep down inside, we know that we’re amazing and powerful and capable. But sometimes, in the midst of confusion and chaos we just need to hear these simple words:

It’s okay.

You’re allowed to feel frustrated or angry or whatever you’re feeling in the chaos.

Take a breath.

It’s okay that you don’t want to talk to people who push you to the tipping point, that your inbox is overflowing. It’s okay that you’re tired. Sometimes we don’t want people to come in and fix our problems; we just want someone to listen, to understand.
Our lives are far from perfect, but in moments of chaos, we just want to hear that it’s okay.

Please don’t tell me what kind of pianist I am, because I’m still trying to figure it out.

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8 years ago

Grace, you are always an inspiration, and often present a comforting message to your readers. I am a seasoned composer and pianist – “seasoned” come from the fact that I have learned to listen. I so enjoy listening to your insights, and find your site a continued source of inspiration. One can always learn – and I often learn from what you share. Thank you!