Recently, I rediscovered some old writings. I nearly always have some kind of book with me to jot thoughts in as they occur to me. I found a few of my old books and some loose papers. I have been slowly reading through them and realized that my life has not progressed that far. I could clearly see the patterns that existed then still exist now. It seems I operate on a cycle of embarrassment→rage→tension→peace and then right back to embarrassment. So, you could say I’m a bit of a mess.
There was this one writing from one of my notebooks that I kept reading over and over. Certain words and phrases stuck out to me and just reverberated inside me – hitting and bouncing around my insides. Phrases, like, “incredible sensation of creation,” “beauty in silence,” and “expectations can be damaging.” I am going to share a few paragraphs with you. Be gentle, dear readers, for this is the me that I rarely let others see.
Looking down at the keys, all I can think is how amazing it feels to reproduce such sound. Not many people understand that feeling, that incredible sensation of creation or being one with yourself – perfect harmony. I know they are waiting for me to play but there is such beauty is silence, even if all they feel is uncomfortable tension. Let them sweat it out.
I am actually playing well today. The keys feel like an extension of my arms. The tone is amazing. I have such control but I feel such anxiety. Is there too much control? Too many dynamics? Has my playing been too influenced by outside forces? The tones are right, but is my interpretation too much?
I am just glad to be performing Bach. Bach never lets me down. This is the one place that I feel like I have some sort of control over my life. The rest of my life is spiraling so far out of my control that I just want to run and hide in a cave. Bach is my salvation. I can be having a completely crazy day but when I sit down and allow my fingers to play Bach, I at least retain control over my fingers and, ultimately, my emotions. Funny, isn’t it, how music, particularly the piano, has always done that for me?
I remember sitting at the piano, even before I was enrolled in formal lessons and just letting the tones and the sensations wash over me. There was never the fear of not measuring up to some imaginary standard, never the fear of failing. As the years went by and I got more and more training, the fear set in. Expectations can be damaging.
Expectations can be damaging. This is the thought that sums my life up, so far. I feel the expectations from every single place in my life. Expectations from my family. Expectations from my students. Expectations from work. Expectations from friends. Expectations from church. Expectations from strangers. Expectations from my readers. Expectations from myself. The thing is, I feel I fail to live up to any of the expectations and that bring its own layer of disappointment.
There is a verse from the Matchbox20 song, “Feel” that is on constant repeat in my head these days:
“I’m a mess
I’m a spot on the pavement
“I’m a number on your wall
I make you so tired
And I don’t think I like this game no more
It goes around and round and round…”
Go listen to this song. Then, listen to it again and again.
I’ve not been sleeping well. This is probably why I feel like sharing all of this with you. It seems to be making me more paranoid, more easily irritated and provoked, and more introspective. There are good and bad to the not-sleeping thing. I feel buzzed inside without the use of stimulants, like caffeine. I have been more productive and more creative recently. I feel like I’m swiftly going crazy. However, because I’m not sleeping, I am not as outwardly jovial as usual. Wait, have I ever been jovial?
I suppose that I’m just on a journey that I have to do solo and you get to watch on your screens. You lucky readers/observers.
Life is truly about expectations and expectations are almost always damaging. I am trying to curb the expectations that I have for others. This way, I can never be disappointed in the way the world operates. I am often disappointed in human nature due to my expectations. I am trying to see the good in the world but it’s tough. Expectations are tough. Expectations are damaging.