Tuesday, October 11, 2016

     What do you do when you’re trying so hard to learn something, and it’s just not sinking in? Do you give up? Try harder? Throw a tantrum? Walk away and then come back and try again? Cry? Find a new resource? Call your congresswoman? 

      When the chips are down, and the sweat and blood in your arena aren’t inspiring you to solider on to the bitter end, risking defeat, that’s when our true character will surface. ugh.

     For a Type A RP (Recovering Perfectionist), this “try harder” thing can be a real nightmare. It would be so easy to just walk away. No one really cares but you anyway, so

the easy question to ask would be:  If I gave up this whole project, what difference would it make? Who would be the loser? Who really cares?

     For me, the ARP, I care. I care if I succeed. I care about running to the finish line. If I stumble, I resume a slower pace and keep running. If I fall, I haul myself up and get back in the race. If someone knocks me down, I don’t swing back, I win to retaliate. If I can’t find the answer to improving with each try, I find someone to coach me so I succeed.

      With about $150 into my present jazz improvisation learning, I am very frustrated. Yesterday’s lesson with my jazz piano coach went very well. We recorded some techniques on my I-phone, and I drove the 45 minutes home elated. After ten minutes at the piano, however, I couldn’t get what she’d taught me to fit into my piece. Thirty minutes later, I was wringing my hands and wishing I could drink. I did neither. I walked away, and thought to myself, “And why am I doing this? especially at my age when I have nothing to prove.” 

     This morning, I was awakened by loud snorts and deafening snores. Irritated, I dragged my body out of bed at 3:24 a.m. Here I sit planning a new assault on the learning curve. I will do this. I will learn these pieces, and in the process, I will learn how to plug these skills into any of my pop standards, and I will be a jazz star, if only in my own mind. 

     Why am I going to sit down and make a list of several techniques to learn these concepts? Because I won’t give up. Giving up is not an option. It doesn’t matter who cares; I care. It doesn’t matter who hears the final product; learning matters. It doesn’t matter that I will never be the best jazz pianist in my neighborhood; success matters, and pushing through the road blocks is always the answer.


      What have you given up recently that maybe if you tackled it a new way, you could succeed? What questions do you ask yourself when things you are attempting for the first time aren’t working? What keeps you focused, and what gets you through those blocks? If you have never suffered the setbacks like I’m describing and then finally succeeded, then you haven’t experienced the exhilaration of a race well run. Lace up those Nikes, ladies and gentlemen. If I can do this, so can you.  

"There are no short cuts to any place worth going."  Beverly Sills