I have an hour-long piano lesson every two weeks. I practice nearly every day, working on my scales and Hanon exercises as well as my pieces. At every lesson I learn new practice techniques for challenging passages. I’m working hard and loving it more than ever.
In spite of all this, my last lesson didn’t go well. I stumbled on notes that I play perfectly at home. My fingers were shaky though I wasn’t particularly nervous. I was well prepared — hoping to play my best — but it didn’t happen.
I came home disappointed. “What’s the point of all my practice, if I can’t play at my lesson like I play at home. Why do I even bother?” Those interior words kept me from my piano for the rest of the day — and most of the next day.
During those two days I struggled to put things into perspective. “This was only one lesson out of many. Sometimes I play really well, even better than I expect. One bad lesson doesn’t make me a failure.”
During my ponderings I recalled a childhood time when Dad and I were riding horses on a mountain road near our family campsite. I was eight or ten years old and had laid my jacket across the saddle in front of me instead of securing it with saddle straps behind. The jacket fell off. The horse spooked. I landed on the gravel road, scraped and bruised, but not seriously hurt. Dad never got off his horse while I sat crying and scared on the road. “Get back on the horse,” he said, in his calm, logical voice. “You have to show the horse that you’re in charge.” That was the last thing I wanted to do. However, I knew Dad was always right about such things. So I did what he said. After securing my jacket, I rode the rest of morning without incident.
That’s how it is with most things. We can give in to our fears and disappointments and failures — or we can get back on the horse and continue to ride.
Only then can we put the past behind us.
What’s keeping you from getting back on your horse — or getting back to your writing — or putting your fingers on the piano keys — or returning to your kitchen to try the recipe again?
Set your wounded pride aside. Then move forward.
Until next Tuesday…