In this room. With you.

There is a certain type of person. In my experience of life thus far, the person looks a lot like me. S/he picks a destination, studies up on the way to get there, and avoids (sometimes at all costs) taking a detour.

I usually pride myself in knowing the most efficient way to get to an endpoint or to the answer to a question. I speed through steps and instructions checking off boxes and feeling like a champion racer.

Being this type of person has deemed me “goal oriented”/“career minded” /“focused.” There are “achievements” seemingly garnered at a very young age and some acquaintances will, with a quick glance, place me in some category marked “successful.”

I tend to feed those generalizations because I feel the need to prove that my mind moves fast. I skim the surfaces of things (read: work, classes, books, important events, even performances) in order to say “What’s Next?” (Thank you to Aaron Sorkin for establishing that beautiful phrase in The West Wing.)

So, for me, “Being.” And “in this room.” Are highly unlikely to exist in the same sentence. My mind is more likely to be elsewhere. Dealing with some anxiety. Being sure to solve that math problem faster than the person next to me. Writing a cover letter for an upcoming application in my mind while I’m sitting across from you and am supposedly listening.

My, oh my, how much of life I have missed by skimming. I’ve missed the taste of food. I’ve missed the joy of watching a tiny plant grow from a seed (“wouldn’t it be faster to go buy one that’s already grown?” my fast-track self would say). But most importantly, I’ve missed the fact that doing work thoroughly takes time. Even my second grade report card said something like “Ann Marie gets her work done but tends to skip checking it for errors.”

So my piano and I are beginning a new relationship. When I’m practicing (or when I’m on stage for that matter) I’m going to be present. In the room. With every breath I take.

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