Life goes by fast.
It does not stop for you.
It does not slow down.
It goes. Fast.
And…life is not an obligation.
You don’t have to do anything.
Life will go on with or without you. And in the process of this fast unobligated life, you are faced with many strings of choices. Much like the strings inside a piano that the player chooses to orchestrate.
Your strings of choices along the way produce things. Consequences.
I play piano. I’m in love with it. When I’m out of sorts, it’s where I go—when I’m happy, sad, nervous, frustrated, can’t sleep, or need soothing—or singing. It’s my standby. When I walk past them in lobbies, bars, churches, and halls—I am drawn to them. I have this need to touch and hear them. Because every piano sounds different. They are individual like people.
So it was just last night, as I went to the piano at about 10:30pm that I realized—life is like a piano. It’s also like a box of chocolates, according to Forest Gump. But recently I see the piano scenario. We are each a piano in life.
For those of you that don’t know, there are 88 keys (the white and black things) on a standard full-size piano. But as for the strings? OH THE STRINGS are a different matter! You’d think there’d be the same number of strings as keys. But no, strings are different. Did you know this?
In fact, my piano has 230 strings.
The short, semi-accurate, story is that each key has either one, two, or THREE strings attached to it.
So let’s pretend that you, the accomplished piano player, and the piano itself, represent your life.
Pianos make all kinds of sounds. Happy sounds. BIG sounds, quiet like a lullaby, eerie, and soul soothing sounds. But here’s the deal, you have to do something with the piano to make sound. To make music. To make a soundtrack of your life.
In the worst of circumstances, too often, people are just sitting at “their piano” waiting for someone else to play for them. And this is a choice. It’s that cliché of going out and making life happen verses sitting around and waiting for life to come to you.
Because again, life is fast. It will go on with or without you.
IT’S HOW YOU PLAY IT
My piano teacher had me learn a classical piece, Moonlight Sonata (no. 14) by Beethoven. It’s a slow, stirring, moving piece. It’s possibly one of my favorite to play. Not because it’s the best piece out there–there are better–but because of what my teacher had me do with it.
One day, after I’d mostly perfected the piece, she said, “Sherry, now play it staccato.”
WHAT?!! Moonlight Sonata is not a staccato piece. Staccato is a way to manipulate / articulate music. It’s short and jumpy and quick-witted and “curt.” Puzzled, I attempted to play the song in this new way. And the lessons of Moonlight Sonata didn’t stop there—I learned to play it with various dynamics: Fortissimo!! (loud). Pianissimo (soft/quiet). Even place Sforzando (an accent on a note) in an unexpected place. The equivalent of speaking with a strange dialect. It’s like putting the accent on a syllable in a strange place: “I’d like a cookIE” instead of “I’d like a COOKie.” One sounds right, the other weird…to you. But to someone else who has a different dialect, the opposite placement of accent on certain syllables sounds normal.
Not to mention learning to Crescendo and Diminuendo or make the piece feel Marcato (stressed) or Calmando (soothing). All that to say, my teacher demonstrated through a piece I loved, that there is no one way to play a song.
And while you may not have had this exact experience—you ARE having this exact experience.
Life is a string of choices on a piano. You make each moment happen. The key, when you strike it, you feel it. You Sforzando! it, or c~a~l~m~a~n~d~o it… You play it how it suits you best in the moment. And you really do have a choice all the time.
Sad moments, don’t have to be played long drawn out forever sad. Happy moments, don’t have to be played ecstatically happy.
You have these keys to life.
How are you playing them?
Are you playing them?
Please be playing them, don’t wait for someone else to make your soundtrack.
Life is complex, as complex as a piano—and more. Sometimes the slightest change in how we come at life and orchestrate the strings of possibilities will change everything. For good or worse.
And mostly, what I really want to you know today are these two things:
- Life is not an obligation. But if you want any sense of control, then please be playing the keys and strings—don’t stuff it away, or wait for someone else to do it for you.
- The keys are life…it’s gonna happen. But the strings are consequences. They are choices. Your choices. How you play your soundtrack matters.
Marcato!—Staccato!— Fortissimo! wearing you ragged, raw, and thin? Soften and slow down. Watch clouds and breath for a stanza or two. Again it’s not a different song, you’re just playing/accessing it differently.
Lifeless and humdrum? Try a little Sforzando and Staccato here and there—something unexpected. Simply going to the park and swinging on a swing–or jump up and down ten times–I kid you not/this works!–or just dance one song like a fool with a friend on Skype/FaceTime. These small moments could change the tone of your life soundtrack—even if only for the moment. (all of which I did this week with fantastic results, trust me, try it)
You are an amazing musician. A soul full of song and music.
There is a Teacher who longs to show you all the ways of playing.
Beautiful soul, play life beautifully.