At the age of ten, I developed a fascination with Beethoven’s “Für Elise.” I imagined myself playing it before an adoring audience—candelabra perched upon a grand piano, light reflecting from my jeweled gown. It was a beautiful fantasy.
Only, I couldn’t play the piano.
My repertoire consisted entirely of classic slumber party fare such as “Heart & Soul” and “Chopsticks.”
But dreams don’t die easily.
So that year, I signed up for lessons with the explicit purpose of learning “Für Elise.” I dedicated myself to practice (that one song), learned the proper fingering, and at the year-end piano recital, I had my moment. I wore a navy polka-dot dress and white lace gloves, the latter which I removed with dramatic flare as I took the stage.
Honestly, I did the song justice (in other words, I didn’t mess up), but after this moment, I never returned to piano lessons again.
I can still play much of “Für Elise” from memory, but one of my great regrets in life is that I can’t play the piano. That skill would have served me well as I competed in choir competitions throughout high school and tackled music theory classes in college. Yet more importantly, I know I would have loved it.
If only I had understood then this simple truth.
What the yoga instructor said as I fought to hold plank this morning—that we grow strong in the struggle. That if I’m willing to work now, I will return more confident and capable to the next practice.
That the reward of diligence is mastery.
Short cuts can work for a season, they can even fabricate a type of competence, but after a while, your friends and family will hate the sound of “Für Elise,” and then, the gig is up. You have nothing left to offer because your piano playing was always a sham.