I let myself play piano first thing this morning, when I was fresh and not wiped out from computer-boggle-eye-marketing-crap.
Well that tells you how much I’m enjoying it.
I felt panicky as I sat down at the piano. Torn. Want to play. Scared that if I do I’ll end up with no money because I SHOULD BE DOING SOMETHING TO EARN MONEY EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF THE DAY.
Fuck it, I said, I’m playing the piano.
At first my brain wouldn’t engage. Couldn’t concentrate. Fingers clumsy. Couldn’t play Bach pieces that aren’t even complicated stuff for Bach. So I stopped and let myself play baby Bach pieces. Everything settled down, my concentration warmed up. Went back to the more difficult pieces. Slow down, Jennifer, you have to learn them first before you can play them. Play as slowly as you have to. Relax, tomorrow you can play again, and the day after that.
Slowly things got better, the world around me faded into absolute nothingness. All the stress, all my fear, the past and future – none of it was relevant. Deep breath. This feels so natural, this makes me believe that the world is an okay place, that I’m okay and safe.
My refuge, my haven, but it’s more than that. It’s my world. This is what my body, brain, heart and soul love to do. I love to do the work; it’s hard to tear myself away. As I was playing I let that awareness wash over me. The relief.
Breathe deeply, let go. The more I let go the easier it was to concentrate.
Then a man and his son came to fix the broken alarm. I froze. I said will I disturb you? Worried.
They said no. Usually my concentration disappears completely when I’m playing in front of other people. This time I said fuckit I want to play. So I did, then realized I don’t have to apologize to them for disturbing them. Should be the other way round in fact. You wouldn’t believe all the pop-ups – all fears, of course – “what if they don’t like the music, what if it irritates them, what if I’m playing too loud, what if I make a mistake”. Well, I just let them be and after a while I got engrossed in the music. It’s much more interesting than my pop-up messages which are by comparison UTTERLY TRIVIAL.
It’s so bloody hard for me to believe I have rights. My default is that I don’t have any at all. I get so mousy sometimes, am I bothering you? I’d much rather bother people so much with my playing that they come yelling at me to stop and I slam the door in their face, or laugh and keep on playing. Rather not have that whole situation, but I’m just saying, mousy is the worst of all options. Nobody’s going to hurt you, Jennifer, if you play the piano.
While I was playing, I thought about what I’m doing, how I’ve never really let myself engage fully in the piano again after Italy. I’ve come back to it, committed to never give up again, and that isn’t hard, it’s natural now. But I’ve never said fine, this is what I’m going to do with most of my time. Because I’m not a genius? Because there’s no point? Because I know I can’t compete with anybody at a professional level?
But how does any of that compare to how I feel when I’m playing? How does it compare to what a nightmare monster place the world and my life becomes when I’m not? It doesn’t. It’s easy to say do the thing you love and success will come to you – until you’ve only got money for food and rent for another six weeks, when you’re 55 with no career and you’re not earning. Is it only the massively talented people who have the right to do what they want? What a ridiculous idea.
But don’t I have to make money? Well, I’m back to I don’t know what the solution is. I just know that I haven’t finished playing today. And I see that playing first thing in the morning lets me remember who I am and why I’m alive. Not talking about material success. Talking about the success that is your soul expressing itself, no matter how “talented” you are or aren’t, or what level you’re at. I guess I’ve got a belief tucked inside nicely that says other people deserve to do what they love, but I don’t because I’m not talented enough. Hallo mother stuff!
I remember when I was in Italy and I was thinking about living in Ireland because I could get the dole – which would let me practice as much as I wanted to – and I told my sister on the phone (she was here in SA). She said “well you can’t live off the dole if you come back here.” The unspoken words were you lazy bitch. Why should you get something for nothing. But I didn’t want it for nothing, and I was willing to work exceptionally hard for it. I didn’t want the dole so I could go and hang out at the local pool room.
My sister didn’t have to say it, I already believed her.
Thing is, I want it all, even though I am 55 and not a genius. I want to do what makes sense to me and be financially independent. Ah, to heck with all the debate. I’ll do work on the minisites today. But I’m also going to finish my practicing, and I’m going to do some work on my thriller script. I’ll do my part in the money thing, but I’ll also keep in mind that I’m a co-creator in my life, I don’t have to try and control everything. I do have to stake my claim. Let go and let God. Hey God, time to step up.
Maybe it all boils down to management – not so much of time, but of energy. I’ve got a certain amount, and I must parcel it out, so that I do money work but it doesn’t stop me doing all the other, more important, stuff.
I’m not willing to get to the end of my life and know that I didn’t let myself do what made the most sense to me, because I needed money. I’m not willing to get to the end of today and know that I didn’t listen to this most important part of me. There won’t have been a point to my life, then.
That’s all she wrote.