A decade of work with people trying to make changes in their lives gives grist for my philosophical mill as well as private lessons of my own. Those who realize one morning they are living someone else’s life (not the one they had hoped for) have visions of a pivotal moment when the sky will open and lightening will strike their new life path at their feet. I can’t help think of my life as a flutist.
I have known since third grade I wanted to play music—an unrequited love if there can be such a thing for a musical instrument. I received a used flute all snuggled in a blue velvet-lined case for my 30th birthday. But for some reason while I had the vision, I could never bring myself to do the work to play it. I moved this aging flute from closet to closet for the "some day" when I would actually become the musician I wanted to be.
Serendipitously last fall my musical neighbor who knew I wanted to play the flute needed to do some community service work for her junior year of high school and approached me with a proposition to be my teacher. At last, the sky opened and I would become my musical dream. Right.
I struggled from the moment we started in the fall. First, while I poised my body, fingers and mouth just the way she told me I could not find some notes no matter how much I worked. The more I failed, the more I lacked luster to practice. Until one day my novice teacher (who had extracted some advice from YouTube) tried to play my flute. She couldn’t find the notes either. A closer examination sent the deteriorated thing off to the repair shop for $300 to make it playable.
I felt a renewed sense of purpose; only to find that while I could make a clear B flat, I was brought to my knees by the C. On the flute the C note requires that you almost let go of the instrument, teeter it between fingers and still form a perfect blow in the wobbling mouthpiece. It was awkward and at first unthinkable. Weeks and trials later, I finally found the C. My triumph was short lived as I progressed to the next song in my beginner's book.Now I struggle to consistently find the D and E flat. While hands are not the issue with either, posture, breathing and direction of breath are. It turns out that changing from not being a musician to being one is a lot like work--which finally brings me to my point.
When I envision or make changes, I somehow believe a miracle will follow. I am hopeful that just because I want it things will happen. I forget how long it took me to get where I am. I am naive to how many C notes I must craft, how many impossible movements I must overcome. I am humbled by my own optimism but am learning to laugh at my awkwardness. I am also learning to like the work I have to do and the accomplishment I feel when I conquer today what was unthinkable yesterday. Baby steps. Progress. Onward to F.