A Glimpse

June 2, 2011
By LeahTW GOLD, Port Washington, New York
LeahTW GOLD, Port Washington, New York
15 articles 0 photos 7 comments

“You think too much, let’s just have fun…please” I begged him.

He looked at me with confusion, “I thought you liked me for my amazing intellect! I don’t know what you mean by…having fun.”
“I mean, we just need to stop all this panic and worrying about what’s going to happen next. We need to take our focus off what score we’re going to get on the next test, and what other people think of us. Let’s just have fun, for once,” I replied.
This is what our parents think we say when they aren’t listening. They think we’re over-stressed, hard-working, and self-depriving over-achievers. They’re wrong.
The thing about over-achievers that most people don’t understand is that we’re the best procrastinators. There are two types of stressed-out students in this world, those who are superbly intelligent and work minimally, yet still manage A’s in every honors class, and then there are people who work and work and can never seem to get to the level of the finest type, even with ten times the effort. Here’s a typical scene, for instance, at 7:30 AM, just before a final:
“I don’t know anything; I was up until 2AM studying because I couldn’t focus until eleven. Tell me everything that’s on the test, I didn’t absorb the info last night,”
A classmate responds, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. What does this test even count for, anyway?”

Studying, for me, is like a rubber band. I can only stretch so far, and then once I’ve reached my maximum point of exhaustion, I snap or retract. I retract into a state of lethargy that consists of me being productive by playing piano. To the outside world, it simply seems like another hard-working task. Pressing the keys, though, releases the stress that has built up. I have often thought my piano has the hardest job. It has to stay stationary in musty living rooms, and accept the energy released by the fingertips of its master. The wood never cracks, the wheels never break, but the strings loosen and the ivory chips. My piano is so much wiser in its endeavors than me. Not only does it have the ability to accept the stresses of time, but it can receive the troubles and the expressions of a life and realize that no matter how bad the little flaws can get, a tuning and polishing can always brighten things up.

Last year, for my birthday, my parents gave me ten guitar lessons with a teacher who, oddly enough reminded me of my piano’s wisdom. Once again, the guilt ensued when I ended up tuning my guitar with the piano, getting distracted from the guitar with the piano, and never practicing. I did enjoy the lessons, though. All of the pressures that I had in my life-studying, school, friends- were lightened when I sat on that bright blue couch with Robbie.
I walked into the community center for my lesson, and I noticed the pungent smell of chlorine, while re-shifting the weight of my instrument strapped across my back. Then, turning the corner, I noticed that our usual room was locked. Not again, I thought. Robbiebie always had an excuse to be late but, they were always the best stories. Some of his past excuses include, a tree had fallen, his car keys had been brought into his dog’s cage, or his mother had called concerning their next get-together.
Wearing his usual ripped Pink Floyd T-shirt, Robbie struggled to keep a tight grip on his ukulele case as he jogged towards the room, ready with his next explanation, “Sorry, Kailee, I just got out of a meeting with this band that I’m doing a gig with next weekend, they wanted to practice and I…”
“Don’t worry ‘bout it, Robbie,” I cut him off, and before he could develop his explanation I said, “It happens.”
He wiped his forehead with a slight sigh of relief, and replied “Whew, because you know, usually you give me a run for my money, ‘Where were you, Robbie? I’ve been waiting half an hour!’ To which I respond, ‘Calm down, Kailee, it’s only been eight minutes since we were supposed to start our lesson!” He chuckled.

“I don’t really care anymore; I just want to start playing…” I said with impatience.
We pushed the heavy glass door aside and started to unpack our instruments. After a bit of tuning, he dived right into our lesson, attempting to make up the lost time. “And we start with a G chord, tune it up Kailee, and tune it up! Slide your fingers towards the third fret, that’s right. Now what have we got for you to play today?”

I responded with self-consciousness. What if he didn’t like my music? So I replied with the safest-bet. “Um, well I’ve been listening to some soft rock lately,” I took my iPod out of my stuffed backpack, carefully untangling the ear buds and connected it to the speakers. I could feel the vibrations in my chest as the bass sang deeply. The slow and smooth male vocals were like melted butter, soft and sweet. This was peace. I went into a trance-like state, letting the butter pour over my insides.

“Kailee. Kailee. KAILEE!,” Robbie yelled, though I had merely thought it was a part of my dream.
I jerked forwards at the sudden disturbance in my deep rest.
Robbie handed me my iPod and ruffled through some sheet music for his next lesson. “Sorry, girly, times up. I know you were in the groove, let’s try and pick that up next time.” Suddenly, my body moved and I was in control. Yet, I was not aware of making the conscious effort to move. My body was so exhausted, I had to lie down, but I packed up my things, collected my music, and pushed the heavy glass door aside struggling to keep the guitar strapped to my back without it swinging forward.
I had never wanted anything more than to go back and relax the way I just had. What was in that song that had immediately put me inn such a trance-like state? I needed to listen to that song repeatedly until I could write something as beautiful and pure.
I sat for long hours in the dim living room beside my piano. Nothing could come close to that feeling, though. As much as I could let go into my instrument, I needed that other release, the release of external serenity.
When I expressed these feelings to Robbie the next week at my lesson, he explained what I failed to recognize within myself.
He though long and hard “Everyone in this world is on hyper-speed. Some may look at me and say, what a bum, but I’ve just taken everything down a notch,”
“Oh Robbie, you’re not a bum, just a little…floozy sometimes!” I tried to say with care. Why should I be the one encouraging him? He’s supposed to be the teacher.
“Well, thank you Kailee, that’s very sweet. What I’m trying to say, though, is that when you were in the groove yesterday, there was nothing outside, nothing around you to distract you from the music. And that’s why my life is teaching you kids and doing some gigs.” Something changed in him, I could tell. He was transitioning in to his, I’m-really-old-and-wise-so-you-better-listen-to-me kind of mood.
I replied, “Robbie, I don’t need a lecture from you,”
He continued, “It earns me a living. I can focus on the music so that I don’t have to focus on stress. Everyone has pressure, some more than others, but I can easily say that I am on the low side of the stress-o-meter. It’s not because I have the most money so I can just relax.”
“Robbie I know, money can’t buy happiness, but what makes you think that music can?”

He kept going, ask if I wasn’t even there, he needed to prove to himself that he was worthwhile, “And it’s not because I’m in such good shape. Because the fact is, even the richest and fittest people have intense stress. Family lives, relationship issues, drugs, you get the picture. I focus on my music, and I focus on being happy.”

With that final statement, I realized that he was right. No matter how ridiculous he seemed, he was right. And so, I learned to focus on being happy. Through music, through love, throughout the rest of my life, I learned.

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This article has 2 comments.

LeahTW GOLD said...
on Jul. 3 2011 at 10:00 am
LeahTW GOLD, Port Washington, New York
15 articles 0 photos 7 comments
Thank you!

jq1994 said...
on Jul. 3 2011 at 1:04 am
Your description of the piano was riveting, as was your ability to put down in words the feeling of music.  And the beginning about procrastinators was totally relatable, as was the part about music being an outlet in an otherwise stress-filled life.

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