Piano Dreams

Monday, February 22, 2010

No, I don't want a new piano. Now that I've finally gotten it tuned, I'm perfectly happy with the one I have. What I do want is the skill to play it.

I can read music, and I know which notes on the paper belong to which keys on the piano, but my brain doesn't move quickly enough when matching the two and sending its messages to my fingers. Worse, with age and lack of exercise, my fingers have lost what little dexterity they had.

When I was growing up, my mother gave my brothers and me piano lessons. Unfortunately, there were two problems. First, Mama's teaching job kept her busy during the school year, so we only received lessons in the summer. And with my aversion to practicing, my progress was always two steps forward, one step back. (Or, more accurately, two baby steps forward, one giant step back.)

The second problem was that I had no one to impress. My mother was, after all, my mother, and she was going to love me no matter how well I played. Our church organist gave lessons, and I wonder if I would have been more motivated learning from her.

I like music and have always regretted that I slacked off when I had a chance to become an adequate pianist. I'm not talking Carnegie Hall, here, but it would be nice to sit down and play hymns correctly the first time through (or even the second or third or fourth . . .).

As a child, knowing how to play appealed to me, but practicing didn't. And although I probably had a sneaking suspicion that the first required the second, I didn't have a strong enough desire for the first to do the second. If I could have seen into the future, would it have changed things?

Probably not. I was a child, and I thought as a child.

So now that I'm an adult, I play easy pieces to please my ear and maybe to entertain people who won't recognize how simple they are. And I practice slightly harder ones when no one is around to hear my mistakes and the pauses that aren't written into the music. Oh to have my lost opportunities back.

And not to waste the ones still ahead.

Do you regret lost dreams? Leave a comment and tell me about them.

Struggling Through Love 101

Monday, February 15, 2010

I spent my Valentine's Day thinking about the meaning of love. Not erotic feelings or even the experience of being "in love," but the I Corinthians 13 type. Paul says, "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (I Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV)

If I Corinthians 13 was a grading rubric, I'd flunk the course. We all would, because God is the only one who can live up to that standard. Fortunately, it isn't a required class for those who get their degree from Grace University. Okay, maybe that's a lousy analogy, but it was worth a shot . . .

My love is often selfish, and I can hold onto resentments for years. And there have been times in my life when I could truly say I hated someone. But I know those actions make God sad, just as my children's behavior could (and still can) make me sad.

I don't want to make God sad, so I try to follow His rules. Not because I have to, but because I want to. Or, to continue the bad analogy, I'm struggling through the I Corinthians 13 class because I know God wants me to take it.

The coursework includes love for friends as well as for family and everyone else. Although I've kept up with some old classmates and am trying to reconnect with others, I'm not good at maintaining long-distance relationships. One of my college friends with whom I exchange Christmas letters has gone through some hard times in her marriage. And although I tell her I'm praying for her (and do pray for her immediately after receiving the latest Christmas letter), I have never offered to be her sounding board. She may not need one, but what if she does? It's time to get out her address and send an unscheduled letter.

I want to make the same offer to the rest of my friends. I've always been a good listener, and sometimes listening is the best thing a friend can do. Not give advice, not spout Bible verses, and certainly not condemn. Just love and listen.

So if you need that kind of friend, I'm here.

We'll Name It "Das Luftschloss"

Monday, February 8, 2010

My husband and I give our sailboats German names. The first was Zeltlagermanie ("Camp mania"), and our second (and current) is Freizeit ("free time"). And yes, that is Freizeit in the blog header.

We went to the Strictly Sail show just over a week ago and found our third boat: a Beneteau 37. I fell in love with a vanity table that would make a perfect laptop desk for my writing, and Roland fell in love with the location of the raw-water impeller. (The raw-water impeller pumps water through the engine to keep it cool. It needs to be replaced once a year, and Freizeit's impeller is almost impossible to get to, especially if it should fail while we're out on the water.) It's amazing how much the little things contribute to falling in love.

I also have a name for our new Beneteau 37: Das Luftschloss ("air castle"). That's because, at almost $200,000, it is just a pipe dream. Still, there's nothing wrong with building castles in the air if you are realistic about your chances of lowering them onto solid ground. Maybe when my book hits the New York Times' bestseller list . . .

It takes an active imagination to write Romeo and Juliet, to create a country like Narnia, to invent the flying machine, and to find a cure for polio. So dreams can be good things to have. (Okay, so maybe a new sailboat isn't quite as noble a quest, but bear with me here.)

Dreams can be counterproductive if they get in the way of more important matters, such as faith, family, and friends and neighbors (in the broadest sense). I would rather lose the dream than have to name the boat Das Idol. (I'll let you figure that one out.)

Until then, I'll continue building castles in the air.

Superwoman Can't Fly

Monday, February 1, 2010

Thursday night I attended my first Toastmasters Club meeting. One of the presentations was a humorous one-man skit

called "Superman Can't Fly," in which the speaker revisited a scene from his childhood. As a nine-year-old, he donned a Superman cape that he believed would make him fly, jumped off a picnic table, and (you guessed it) fell flat on his face. He had discovered that superman (with a small s) can't fly.

Neither can superwoman.

When I was younger, I had a low self-image. I wasn't pretty or popular, and I stunk at sports. I'm convinced the only reason I didn't fail physical education was because the teacher took pity on my efforts. And my academic performance (which put me near the top of my class) was just a minor achievement in my eyes because my brothers' grades were even better.

Then I went to law school and learned that the secret to excelling was to discover what I did well and put my energies there. As my law career gave me confidence, my low self-esteem turned into pride. Somewhere along the way I forgot that everyone has different strengths and that we are all equal when looking at the bigger picture.

This has been a frustrating week as I dealt with other people's mistakes in areas where I excel. My ego kept telling me I would have done it right, and I would have. But my pride turns "I would have done a better job on this particular task" into "I'm better." And I'm not.

It would do my ego good to remember that I would still be a coach's nightmare as a player (although I'm a good spectator). And that my drawing is so bad that you wouldn't even recognize the human form if I didn't use stick figures.

The old adage says that pride goes before a fall. I haven't taken a tumble yet this week, but I'm waiting for it.

Because sometimes I need to be reminded that superwoman can't fly.