May 27, 2008
I am drawn into an abyss of selflessness. Time, gravity, finiteness; all constants of my perception dissolve seemingly instantaneously as my conscious mind is lulled into a deep, impossible sleep. But my fingers continue their perilous journey with confidence. Missteps become opportunities for new ideas to pervade, permeate, and saturate the canvas with entirely new and unique swatches of tonality. And as I am consumed by this mystic and unknowable veil, I am born anew in the sounds that my own fingers are, now completely unconsciously, shaping. This new self is one that is not constrained by the laws of our universe, imprisoned by causality, or otherwise inhibited by any other construct of the human mind. Completely unaware of the world we know, it flies in the face of impossibility and preconception, soaring through an endless ocean of potentiality.
I am hurled into a whirlwind of anguish, torment, and love. All the deepest and most profound of passions explode out of the very core of my being. Then, as quickly as ascended into this empyrean paradise, am I tossed back down to earth. My senses slowly but surely return to me. The sound of a sizzling frying pan from the kitchen, the distant murmur of cars heading down a nearby busy road, the harsh, sharp cry of my dog’s bark. All seem dull and lifeless now, compared to the most vivid sensations I experienced earlier. I look down and see my hands, propped in deplorable technique on the keyboard, and fully come to terms with my current state. I try to continue, but somehow I know that my efforts are in vain. I again play the previously sounded chord, I arpeggiate it, modulate it in every way that I have learned, even resort to just placing my fingers randomly on the keys, but the invisible force that had only moments ago had guided them effortlessly to the most beautiful consonance had fled me, and even before the vibrations reached my ears, before the hammers inside my modest piano even struck those long, bronze strings sitting regally across the soundboard, I knew the inevitable was soon to come with cruel obedience.
Dissonance. Tasteless, horrifying, repugnant. The kind of sound that makes even the most well predisposed musician cringe with shame, shame that this glorious art could engineer such vile noise. Yet I endure, trying even harder to create, and with each new note I am launched further into a dark and inescapable ravine of frustration. After an eternity, I realize my predicament. I weigh my options. Risk and reward, action and consequence, for in this reality they are omnipresent. My desire for redemption runs deep, but my mind is filled with doubt. Finally, I decide to quit. I know that I cannot run for long though, the rampant urge to fight on could only be suppressed for so long. Rather, I take refuge in print.
Again am I overtaken by emotion, but not in the same way as before. Deep concentration fills my thoughts, and as I am immersed in lofty Chopin Nocturnes, precise Bach Fugues, and passionate Beethoven Sonatas, my mind races to keep pace with my hands, which furiously finger complex passages, before I am even able to process the notes which appear before me. My fingers stumble through awkward runs, guided by experience, while I make conscious attempts to rectify errors, dictate dynamic variations, translate the italic messages inscribed in Italian between the staves, and accommodate my interpretation to that of master, all as the notes come and go at a constant pace. As I strike the final chord, I am filled not with ecstasy, but with pride. I return to difficult sections of the piece to practice them, but after countless repetitions, the sounds I create are no longer those of a great composer, but my own. I continue scale patterns beyond their intended duration, alter chords, try to understand the nature of this massive and perhaps revolutionary work of art.
Then, I catch a glimpse of my fleeting inspiration. I am distracted, and take a stride off of that worn path, where thousands have tread on their long and tedious march to mastery. I am stranded in an uncharted wilderness, but unconcerned with finding my way home. Some inner force compels me to continue without regard, and I know exactly where I am going.

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