My Friend, The Pianist

For Michael Caldwell

 

I want him
to pull out
every song
in his repertoire,
Beethoven, Mozart,
Rachmaninoff, Chopin,
the music nobody
can perfectly pin down,
untwine the notes
from his fingers,
unleash his aging body,
take the fear
and the almost-fear,
and the love,
especially the love,
and then
and then
play them
on his piano
and see how
they sing
and his heart jumps!

 

Inspired by a slightly more solemn poem, My Friend’s Divorce, by Naomi Shihab Nye.

 

 

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Don’t Be Afraid: Doing One Thing Everyday That Scares You

Eleanor Roosevelt once said famously, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean anything extreme like diving off a cliff or climbing a mountain – she just meant step outside your comfort zone a little bit. (Of course, you’re welcome to do those things if you’re up for it!)

It is difficult to challenge yourself sometimes, though. Especially when you are stuck in a routine of waking up, going to work, and coming home after work. Somedays you may venture to the grocery store on the way home but that’s about it activity-wise. It is hard enough to fit in work and life (that stuff you happen to be doing) let alone find time to do something that ‘scares you’. Fancy a bit of sailing after work? Sure. But dude, there’s no time (or money).

So my one thing that scares me might be talking to a coworker I don’t normally speak with.

So I suppose one must start off small. For me, it normally has to do with opening up to people. I can be a little closed off at times, detaching myself from a group and working away on my own. So my one thing that scares me might be talking to a coworker I don’t normally speak with. I’m a little embarrassed to name this as the thing that scares me, but it does. Going out of my way to ask a coworker I don’t normally talk to about how their day is going and really engaging with them and smiling is not something everyone does! Perhaps you could give them a compliment and brighten up their day. What a lovely necklace you’re wearing, or, this coffee is so damn good. Sure, it may seem a little superficial on the surface but I promise that if you’re genuine it will show and they will give you a smile.

GO. Learn something new.

Another thing you could do is go to a talk or workshop of some sort. You might have a secret interest in astrophysics and some person from NASA is going to be giving a talk in your city. Or you’re dying to go to a writing workshop but you think you’re absolutely terrible. Or you think you’re too fat and ugly (you’re not) to go to Soulcycle. GO. Learn something new. It might intimidate you but I can guarantee that many of the others won’t know much about the subject or they may think they are also shit (a lot of writers, and people in general, have the shit voice talking to them in their head too!).

Sign up to take classes in an activity you’ve always wanted to try out but never had the guts or dedication to. Hip hop. Adult ballet. Pottery. French. Boxing. Rock climbing. You name it. There’s probably a class for it. Hot air balloon riding! Now, that’s scary. Go for a trial class first if you don’t want to commit upfront. Most places give a free trial class so take advantage of it. And then watch yourself blossom. Yes, dear, you can do that. You’re AMAZING.

Or it could be something that doesn’t really scare you but that you never do simply because you don’t make the time or effort. Go sit in that park on your lunch break. And you know what? Be a real rebel. Lie on the grass. But there are worms and ants and crawly things, you say? Oh please, just lie back and look at the sky. 🙂

You’re scared but do it anyway. Go ahead, it won’t kill you. Unless of course it’s parasailing or scuba diving with sharks and then my friend, you’re on your own…

I think you can interpret this quote, do one thing every day that scares you, in whatever way you want. It could be doing something scary every week or every month. It doesn’t have to be every day, although if you focus on little things I’m sure you could do something every day. I guess Roosevelt was proposing an outlook and attitude with which you can approach life. You’re scared but do it anyway. Go ahead, it won’t kill you. Unless of course, it’s parasailing or scuba diving with sharks and then my friend, you’re on your own… No, no, just be careful. But really, it’s saying that there’s no point living life in fear. You only get one life so why not try out as many things as you want? Random question: Why not give a big smile to that guy/girl at the gym that you have been eyeing for months?

We stop ourselves from doing things due to fear. We worry about failing. Failure is a natural occurrence. Without failure, there is no success. I can guarantee you that all the people you love and admire did something that scared them first before succeeding, whether it was starting a new business, being a professional athlete or even having a family – those are all daunting and challenging things.

So godspeed, my friends. Enjoy yourselves. I’m off to dreamland.