I sat down at the piano this morning. Right around 6:27 AM. I had my coffee on the table, next to the piano. I had three songs sitting there, one on top of the other. They smile at me every time I walk through the front room. I am dying to call it the “parlour”, spelled in old English!
This morning, I have the ‘The Incredible Hulk’ winking slyly at me. It’s the saddest song in the world, and I love sad songs. They make my heart open up and send love to every corner of the world.
I put this song there because I can play the hell out of it. And every few years I pick it up and stumble through it a couple times until my fingers can play with feeling instead of searching. And I wait until I am alone, and I play it until every feeling in my body has dripped from my fingers.
In that instant, I feel like a virtuoso or maybe more like a budding rock star in the garage, but some kind of magic happens. And I become the very essence of the music, and my body transmutes all feeling into the notes, and they fall and dance and leave my body in a beautiful parade that makes music. And I can close my eyes and experience it as both creator and listener.
And I truly feel as though there is nothing else in the world. It’s a place I could go by myself when I was in my teens, where no one else could go. And I could never play this way for you or anyone. I become self-conscious around others and feel silly and clumsy. I feel like a pretender in a game where only the girl who is all alone can truly play. The seen girl, she feels like a fraud.
We won’t delve too deeply into that mire today. But I hope saying that means I am not the only one.
The insecurity comes sometimes when I want to learn a new song, and I realize my magic only comes with about two songs in the entire world now I still remember. I rarely play. And last month I purposed to play new songs, to play any songs, no matter how uncomfortable I felt. No matter how silly I felt tapping out new notes like a beginner, as if I hadn’t played all those years, without really learning to create music or read music quickly. I have to go through and learn the piece, like a perfectionist. And truly, even if you set a fire around me, I couldn’t learn it faster. I just never learned to read music like that.
And what with my perfectionism as a youth, it was a disastrous mix, and it rendered me unable to always enjoy the fact that I can play.
I’m trying to get to my point, my moment of beauty, but I keep remembering other pieces of the story, the reason this meant so much!
And this morning, after my playing TIH (come on, you know the song now, right?!), I flipped to the Venetian Boat Song. I remember this song indelibly! I left the music at my ex-husband’s house when I left. And it was one of the pieces of my soul that got left behind, never to be found. And I wanted to learn it again, because playing it used to make me feel that magic! But the pain of losing it, of the place it was abiding, the fear of being unable to peck through it… it was gutting me. I felt I couldn’t bear to relearn something I felt I lost, something that was taken from me. That part of my life, that part I left, that part…
But the only way to regain what you want is to…. do it. So I started pecking away at it in December, and I had started feeling more comfortable in the realization that one day this would sound like a song again, but definitely not soon. I delved into the process, I played in small snippets, I quit for 2 weeks, I delved again. And just kept playing “The Incredible Hulk” when I felt disappointed or deterred by my slow progress.
Back to this morning, circa 6:32 AM, the last notes of the song I know faded, along with my vestiges of security. I put my hands down again, knowing my mind was starting to judge me quietly. And I punched out the first line of the song about boats…
It sounded differently. I don’t know why! But all the notes were right! The sharps were all there, as if I had played the song a million times. I started crying and playing and playing and crying. My face was wet like spring rain. That’s what the song should sound like! THAT was the song! But more beautiful! This is different than when I was married. Less haunting. So purposeful, so gorgeous, so soulful. And I was playing it!
Now I realize it sounds as if I played for hours, and it was only minutes. The new version of the old song played until my tears and my rainbow of feelings emptied all over my face and out my fingers. And the lesson, if it isn’t obvious, was that I had birthed a new version of the same song, of the same me. I had pushed through the fear, the doubt, the insecurity, the perfectionism, and I found me, a different version, but the magic is still there.
In the light of my parlour, with the darkness outside… I watched those feelings glide away. All the feelings. That song from long ago. That time. Those memories. What I left, what I lost… Something broke through. Something emerged. Or had been there for a very long time.
We have these moments in life. And you know I love that phrase. But something broke in me, but not something bad. It was like a fever broke. Or it was like two wires that create electricity were put together correctly. Or I had trudged across some finish line in a mud race.
I put my hands over my eyes and gave in to the tears.
What do I want you to know?
Life is a mess. And it’s magical. And the magic changes. But if you don’t keep playing, you will never hear the moment the song plays out perfectly, differently, magically. And for me, it wasn’t in front of an audience or even for more than a few moments. But I felt the music play beautifully, the notes sang like I meant them, and the beauty emerged. The song, the music, the passion, the me. I played that song. And every moment I put into it, into anything musical my entire life, everything I wondered I had lost, was mine.
Keep loving, keep trying, keep digging. It’s just still on the other side.