When I play the piano, I get lost. Not lost in the physical sense, lost in the mental sense. It’s just me and all of those glorious keys and a plethora of music at my literal fingertips. I love that feeling so much, but I hardly ever play anymore. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure when I stopped.
I teach piano lessons privately; I have several students of varying ages. So I sit at the piano several hours a week. But it’s rare lately for me to actually play it. There are too many other things that get in the way. Life is always moving forward, and there’s always something in the back of my mind that is more important.
When I was a kid, I played all the time. Of course back then I was playing the organ, not the piano. There’s a lot more to the organ, in terms of the pedals and all that. (Though as I recall, I always stubbornly played it as if I was playing a piano.) I used to buy book upon book of sheet music and try to learn all of the things I could. It was the only way that I knew to blank out the things in my head, the only thing that actually worked. The only way to feel something.
Now I’m a writer. I write all the time, and much of the work I’m doing lately involves connecting to the unpleasant things of the past. It involves thinking, and that’s a bit all-consuming. Life itself has been busy, a maze of negotiating for myself and figuring out all things social and worldly. I’m trying to figure out where I fit, how I can incorporate the me who has been through too many things to number with the me who is smart and clever and strong—the me who knows things. There is always something coming up, always something being pushed through or climbed over or worked on. But not today. For fifteen glorious minutes this afternoon, that was not the case.
Today I picked up a book I haven’t looked through in a while and played through some of my old favorites. At first I was rusty, but then it was like I had never stopped. My fingers knew what to do. And the best part was that I didn’t have to think. About anything. I wasn’t thinking about school. I wasn’t thinking about my classes, or homework. I wasn’t thinking about the week I’ve had. I wasn’t thinking about work or my students. I wasn’t thinking about the ten million other things I had to think about, because I was busy. I was playing. I didn’t even think about the notes once I was really going, because there were just too many of them. I played. Really played. I was free.
I remembered today, once again, why I love to play. When I play, I know one hundred percent what I’m doing. I don’t have to think. It’s such a huge part of me that I only hope I can find more time in which to do it.
I’m worth that much.