Pushing through fear

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A little while back a dear friend wrote this post on his blog. http://muddykitchenfloor.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/procrastination-fear/

As he talked about his fears, I began to consider some of my own fears… And this happened to coincide with a time of stretching for me, so all three elements coincided in the synchronicity that is also known as life.

Some other special friends had asked me whether I wanted to play the piano and accompany their daughter for her woodwind exam, grade 7 for those familiar with ABRSM exams. I jumped at the opportunity. It would give a focus for piano practice… A lovely excuse to hang out with my friends… Possibly open up another income stream for me… A challenge… And also a little trip back through memory lane to my classical music training. I duly left their home with the sheet music in my grasp and a new assignment to tackle.

When I set to work on the piano… I couldn’t play it! It was just too difficult. I haven’t played this level of music for a very long time… I couldn’t do it… And I was faced with one of my most powerful inner fears and the aforementioned blog helped shine a light on this fear.

I find it hard to truly articulate the fear. It is not the fear of not being able to do something or that I will let people down per se… It is more the fear of not being able to overcome the fear, if that makes sense. As I sat staring at the music, I could recount numerous occasions where I had let the fear of not being able to do something completely paralyse me- and most of the incidents were educational and music related.

I realise that in many areas of life I am so fortunate to possess a fairly high natural ability. I took to the piano instinctively and progressed very rapidly… But when I hit the ceiling of my natural ability, I froze. As a teenager, I didn’t seem to posses the skills to push through the ceiling. So instead of practising and getting better- I didn’t think that even practise would be able to get me through… So in my self-protection mode, I didn’t practise… And that could be my excuse. The worse scenario would be that I would practise and practise and still not be able to do it… So I didn’t.

And in my log cabin some 25 years later- at my piano staring at this music, those fears came flooding back. I couldn’t play it- it was beyond my natural ability in this moment… And I was faced with a decision- what was I going to do about it? Revert to old behaviours and ‘give in’ or ‘run away’ or was I going to be able to tolerate the pain and push through. In that moment, I decided that I was going to work my butt off and not be beaten by dots on a page. I resolved that I would practise every day for however long it took and I was going to learn how to play these pieces. The temptation to go back to this family and say I couldn’t do it, was there- but I decided that I was not going to do that. If they said to me my playing wasn’t good enough, that was completely fine- but I wasn’t going to give up.

So in the recent snow and cold weather I would go to the piano, set my alarm and beaver away at this beautiful piece of music. And the most wonderful thing has happened… I improved and I can now virtually play both pieces and it feels such a sweet victory for myself. I have deconstructed every bar, phrase and chord… And my fingers are learning the new patterns… And I play with a smile on my face- because I can now do something that I initially couldn’t… Such joy.

I think every one else involved is happy… I hope to get some more work like this… And I will just have to hammer my way through each fear- bar by bar, phrase by phrase and chord by chord. A sweet sweet victory.

Thanks for listening.

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