the subtle art of giving the right f***s.

I saunter into a piano store feeling like I have all the time in the world.

Jamming out on all those black and white keys, I realize I’ve fallen for a Petrof.  It’s a white baby grand, and it charms me silly with its chipped golden rococo design.

Normally indecisiveness is an understatement when it comes from me. What’s the difference this time?

“I’m thinking of saving up for this one,” I say to Pan, hoping I don’t come off as crazy.

The white Petrof with chipping gold paint is $69,000.

 

 

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“Go for it,” Pan says.

“Really?” I say.

“Yes.”

“Okay,” I say. “No hesitations?”

“No,” he says. “It’s your money. If you have somewhere to put the piano, then it’s fine.”

“Okay,” I say. “You don’t think it’s a bit reckless then?”

“It’s your choice.” He says it so flippantly that I become infuriated.

“You would let me do something this reckless?”

“Wait, you’re serious about the piano?” He says.

“Yes, of course. I’ve wanted one for years and years.”

“I thought you were joking. There’s no way you’re getting a grand piano before you get settled. Do it in ten years.”

“But you said…” I repeat all the things he said to me, to bug him.

“You’ll regret it.” He says.

I look back at the Petrof and sigh.  It is everything I need right now.

Something I could spend time on, something that would make me happy every time I sat down. It would give me purpose. 

The two of us stroll right back out of the piano shop.

The gorgeous Petrof stays.

Pan later gives me a book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

“Read it,” he says. “Then read it again. And again.”

“Is it good?”

“For you? Yes. You care too much about everything.”

The book stresses that when we are forever pursuing the next desperate goal, we are highlighting all the ways we are inadequate.

Wanting to be a gym nut highlights how lazy you are; wanting to be a better musician highlights how out of practice you are; wanting to earn more cash highlights how poor you are. The more desperate you are for something, the more unworthy you feel.

This hunger to be better and bigger makes us feel like we never measure up.

How to Be a Less Nervous Pianist

The white Petrof was my wake-up call.

You never want to run out of goals.  Goals are an amazing thing, you should treasure them, and let yourself fulfill them.  But there’s a certain art to goals.  They have to be something you’ll benefit from, be proud of, and love yourself for achieving, at the end of the day.

That Petrof was only ‘perfect’ because it seemed like it could alleviate some of those big ‘life inadequacies.’  But having it in reality would cause more problems than it would solve.

We have to be honest with ourselves.  We may feel like we need something, but a step back can quickly puts things into perspective, and we realize that we’re overcompensating.

Fixable problems, I have come to believe, are good problems.

Think about the most difficult piece of music you’ve ever played.

Your eyeballs probably bugged out seeing the sheet music for the first time.

But you start imagining how a shinier, more advanced android version of yourself would play this in the future.

Determination sets in and makes the effort more worthwhile.  You struggle and sweat, but you finally manage to perform it the way you want to.

At the end of it all, you feel like you’re on top of the world.

This is applicable to any problem or challenge you encounter.

Instead of worrying and thinking we shouldn’t be having a hard time, how about we accept the fact that we will forever be dealing with something, even on a bad day? In Manson’s words, stop giving so many fucks.

Problems are a fact of life.  But we can choose to focus our limited attention on solving them instead of making make us happy or productive. At the very least, we can try to anticipate for the future we want, and take steps in the present to accomplish our goals.

Focus on solving good problems, the right way.  

“How’s the book?”

“It makes some very good points.”

“Good, I have to read it sometime.”

“You haven’t read it?”

“No.”

“I thought you gave it to me because it was good.”

“I already know everything in it, but I could use a refresher sometime.”

Annoyed is an understatement for the way I feel.  But I’m learning how to give the right fucks, so for something like this, I take a deep breath and realize I really don’t give one in this situation.

It’s a good book, and I’m glad to have read it.

Do you see that photo above where I’m paddleboarding in Ljubljana from July? I was gliding under old bridges and past ancient churches and statues of dragons, and that was me living my best life, no fucks given. I could use some of that vacation Grace again.

When do you live your best self?

Go read the book if you also give out too many fucks.

4 Comments


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4 Comments

  • Reply Dave Mc December 16, 2018 at 2:54 am

    I am curious: who is Pan? Is Pan a voice in your head that says, ‘buy it, go on, you know you want to’?; or is Pan the actual half-man, half-goat god of the wild; or is Pan your companion? I really need to know.

    • Reply Grace Lam December 16, 2018 at 4:50 pm

      Hi Dave! Pan is at least half man. I’m not sure about the goat part but I’ve had my suspicions. He’s also a voice in my head, which makes me think he’s at least 0.2% god with those powers. Instead of the pan flutes (which all the full gods play), he plays left handed electric guitar. Left handed only, so if you ever see a right-handed Pan, he’s not the real thing. Does that help?

  • Reply Dave Mc December 16, 2018 at 2:55 am

    BTW, I was assigned the green monster bug avatar, it’s not actually who I identify as.

    • Reply Grace Lam December 16, 2018 at 4:51 pm

      Do you identify as a fuzzy pink monster instead? I think I’ve seen that before.

    What do you think?

    4 Comments