Thursday, May 9, 2013
What you love
The artist has a skeletal/muscular problem and wears heavy orthopedic shoes and metal leg braces. Years ago, if the weather was good, she would come to her niece’s field hockey games and I would help her walk to the field - field hockey being a less popular sport and therefore located behind the football and baseballs fields.
I would always kick off my shoes and squish my toes into the grass which is my habit almost anywhere I am. We started talking about those things we love to do, but often don’t, and she mentioned how she used to love being barefoot as a child but had not had that experience for decades because it took so much time to take the braces on and off. Of course I took that as a challenge and talked her into it. Whenever she came to a game I would help her take her braces off and we would sit together, barefoot.
This spurred more conversation about things we love to do, but for whatever reason, don't do. I spoke of my love of playing the piano. I took lessons for many, many years in my youth and have always had a piano in my life. I went to a music school and had rows of practice rooms available each with its own Steinway. During the first year after Daphne died I had a baby grand and spent most of my time alone, sitting and playing. I often acknowledge that having that piano saved my life.
Now I rarely play, although I usually have it on my New Year’s resolution list. Lack of time and/or lack of commitment, I suppose.
A few years ago my artist friend invited me to her art gallery show, entitled “Angels.” She told she had painted this angel as a reminder to always take the time to do the things we love. (If you look closely you will see that the little girl at the piano has her bare feet tucked under her, you can just see her toes)
I could not afford the original painting but my friend gave me a print of it which now hangs in my bedroom. It is one of the first things I see when I wake.
A couple of weeks ago I read this article: http://m.guardiannews.com/music/musicblog/2013/apr/26/james-rhodes-blog-find-what-you-love
In it, the pianist notes that:
We can function - sometimes quite brilliantly - on six hours' sleep a night. Eight hours of work was more than good enough for centuries (oh the desperate irony that we actually work longer hours since the invention of the internet and smartphones). Four hours will amply cover picking the kids up, cleaning the flat, eating, washing and the various etceteras. We are left with six hours. 360 minutes to do whatever we want. Is what we want simply to numb out and give Simon Cowell even more money? To scroll through Twitter and Facebook looking for romance, bromance, cats, weather reports, obituaries and gossip? To get nostalgically, painfully drunk in a pub where you can't even smoke?
A cancer diagnosis is a surefire way to force yourself to examine what you do with your life. But the reality is, we all the the same prognosis. We all have the same amount of time every day and we all make choices about how we spend that time. Once the day/hour/minute is gone, it is gone to us forever.
Six hours to do whatever we want. (In reality 4 hours for me because I do need my 8 hours of rest.) I have always been very aware of time wasters. I do not watch television, or have Facebook or Twitter, or go drinking. But I don't always use my time doing what I should/could/want/love. So I have once again made a commitment to doing things I love, that make my soul soar, and that includes playing the piano.
Every morning I look to this angel for my inspiration. I have made a commitment to practice 30 minutes, at least 5 times a week. My fingers are stiff, my technique rusty, my fingerings awkward and I have had to drop back quite a few levels in my exercise books. I am not soaring . . . yet. But it is a start.
Four to six hours a day to find what you love and do it.
What are you doing?