I have been waiting for a day like today.
A day when music walks back into my life as if it never left. A day that gives purpose to this part of me that has been hiding for too long.
But it didn’t come without fear.
And I almost said no.
There has been music in my life as long as I can remember. Like many young children, I learned to play the piano, and I still remember my grandfather putting a cup on the piano and filling it with coins when I played for him. Middle school brought the clarinet, which I played into high school, and then voice lessons opened the door to choirs and singing of all kinds. Early morning rehearsals, lunch time lessons, week-end practices, I spent most of my high school years in the music room. And I loved every moment of it.
Then, like any true “renaissance soul” I went off to university to dive into something completely different. I lived in a world of writing and drama, of acting and performing, of teaching and researching.
And I learned to play the guitar. Music seemed to be that one thing that would always be there.
And then I graduated. For the last ten years (except for the one year when I taught piano lessons) music has been on the back burner. Months go by and the piano sits untouched. The guitar has been missing a string for a year (!) and other than a few late-night singing sessions where I belt out show tunes when no one else is home, sometimes it feels like music is that thing that I “used” to do.
And then I was asked to play the piano at my new church.
I really wanted to say no. Because sometimes it’s easier to imagine how wonderful it would be if we did something, than to actually do it. But how can I ask to have more of something in my life, and then say no when the opportunity arises? So I agreed to try it. Even though it made my knees shake and my hands quake.
And so this week has been full of music. I have spent hours at the piano. I played and sung those songs until I could do it with my eyes closed. Hubby got in on the action and dusted off his guitar, and we spent one late night playing together. One of those nights when you keep saying “just one more song” even though your eyes are having trouble staying open.
But in behind it all was the fear. There were many times I wanted to give into it. Many times I wanted to say “No, really, I just can’t do this.” All those fears of playing the wrong notes, of making a fool of myself, of being judged “not good enough.” And then that still, quiet, voice, reminding me that this wasn’t really about me. That I am always worthy enough just as I am. That it didn’t have to be fancy, it just had to come from the heart. Yet still, listening to our Pastor talk at the start of the service, my hands shaking and my heart thumping and wishing I could turn back the clock just a few hours and maybe just practice one more time?
But the moment arrived. The singers were in place. The bass player ready. And my hands began to play.
And the fear disappeared. I remembered why it is I love to do this. I reclaimed the joy that is found when people gather to make music together, to worship together. And I realized something else. The piano player must have one of the best seats in the house. Because from where I was playing, not only could I hear the wonderful singing and music of the worship team behind me, but I could also hear the “choir” of raised voices in front of me. The congregation of everyday people who gather in this place each week to reconnect with something bigger than themselves. Voices young, old, and in between, lifted together in a great wall of sound lifting to the heavens. And my fingers dancing across the keys just a small piece of this great joy.
There are many things we long to do in life. Some things that we were made to do. Steps we were meant to take. And fear holds us back. It pins us to the wall and tells us all the reasons why we should stop moving forward. But great joy awaits us on the other side. We leap, and find that the ground is still firm.
I am a fearful person. But I am learning more and more that life is too short to let fear keep me from the things I really want to do. So I am determined to walk through fear more often, and to find the joy on the other side.
And it begins today. A video. Conquering two fear hurdles in one day. Letting it be known that I may not be perfect, I may not be a concert pianist, but goodness I love what I do!
Anyone else out there ready for less fear and more joy?