Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Crying Game

During class on Sunday we were working on our old standby rhythm, Dansa, and I kept messing up the accompaniment. The accompaniment. We were playing fast and I couldn't stay on rhythm and I was getting psyched out.

There was a moment, when I was struggling to play this simple phrase that I know so well, this phrase that is embedded in my nervous system, that has become a part of my body, when I was struggling to play this thing, when I had a vision. I saw myself, years from now, still unable to play. I saw myself plugging away so hard, working so hard, and coming to realize, like the kid who dreams of playing soccer for living and finally comes face to face with the fact that it won't happen because he is just not, nor will he ever be, good enough, that I might never be good enough.

Not good enough.

And in that moment of doubt, I wondered if it is simply not possible, physically, to play as strongly or as fast as I want to play. Maybe my 43 year old body just can't keep up with the young guns, the lean, powerful, incredibly strong, 30-ish year old African men, even as an accompanist. Even as an accompanist.

In that moment I had doubt. A crack of doubt.

In that moment, I felt such a sense of loss, such grief, I had to get up and walk away because if I sat there and faced what I was feeling, I would have wailed like someone who had lost her best friend.

And the crazy thing is, even if it is true that I will never be a strong player, it doesn't mean I won't still play and love it and work and learn and get better. The process is amazing and is, truly, an end unto itself.

But in that crack of a moment, I felt a dream imploding and I felt so sad for the loss of it, I had to cry.

And I know that no one understood why I was crying. They thought I was frustrated or beating myself up or being hard on myself, or whatever... all of which was true, but those weren't the reasons I was upset.

I think Sidy might have understood, though. Maybe he has been there. Maybe it is part of the process to hit the wall and realize that it is going to get a lot harder before it gets easier and there are always going to be those cracks of doubt along the way.

Last night, I was back on my game, plugging away, laughing at my screw ups and silently thanking God for my little successes. I can't stay in the doubt. I have to just focus on the process and let things unfold, and work hard and try my best and most of all, have fun along the way.

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