11 Oct Forged in Fire, Expressed Through Love
I’ve been waking up in the morning and heading straight for the piano. Playing brings me so much joy, especially when I’m practicing songs that are fun.
I’m practicing, Another Love, by Tom Odell. Waking up and striking some chords gets the mind working and sets the day up to be creative and inspired.
My man Albert Einstein famously played the violin for inspiration as he wondered about the universe. But he got funky on the keys as well:
“Music helps him when he is thinking about his theories,” said Elsa, Einstein’s wife, in this article for National Geographic.
“He goes to his study, comes back, strikes a few chords on the piano, jots something down, returns to his study.”
Einstein himself spoke of his love for music:
“Life without playing music is inconceivable for me,” he said.
“I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music … I get most joy in life out of music.”
When I was around ten-twelve years old, I took piano lessons.
I dreaded the piano recital more than any other day of the year. To get up on stage and play a song in front of a crowd is quite the feat for a kid.
I remember sitting in the first two rows, watching kids fumble through their performance one by one as I awaited in agony.
Here we go. My word, it’s show time. Step up on stage. Bow, sweat, on the verge of a blackout, sit, and somehow play.
For my last recital, the crescendo of my illustrious career, I played Greensleeves.
At the post-show outdoor gathering, where cookies and soda and things of that nature are served, a man came up to me and told me how well I played.
I was already hatching my escape plan to get out of next year’s performance — yes, that’ll work. I just need to get to Burma in one piece.
But this man made me believe in myself. To him, perhaps it was just another beautiful Saturday. He came to the recital to watch his grandkid. Flash to me: distraught, uncomfortable, itching to get this thing over with.
Then, our paths crossed. This man went out of his way to compliment another student besides his grandkid on their rendition of Greensleeves.
He put his heart into it; I remember feeling that. It’s so funny thinking back on memories like this. Nothing really matters.
If we’re honestly striving to be the best human we can be, or for starters, we’re just trying to be a good person, then what deserves to take our joy? More importantly, what’s gonna keep us on the positive track when we do feel ourselves getting down?
What will make us feel like ourselves when the world stops making sense? What is gonna make us care?
It’s easy to think about the past and wish we could go back to do things differently. We wish we just enjoyed that season more and weren’t so hard on ourselves.
Yet, we hear this over and over and still don’t let up in the present. There’s something to that; maybe there’s a part of us that needs to struggle, the deepest part of us.
When we’re tested, when we’re afraid, hurt, low, and just want to give up — yet we find that light again — we’re forging our essence.
Our essence is the undying light that burns in our heart and soul. It doesn’t need accomplishments to be proud. It doesn’t need to make it, to impress, or to win to feel worthy of love.
Our essence is our biggest smile, our heartiest laugh, our deepest cry, our fullest heart. It’s forged in fire and expressed through love. Everything else, the mask we wear so that we won’t be hurt, is the persona.
In Ancient Rome, the persona was a mask worn in a play, an outward depiction of a character. What does persona mean to you?
I wonder what part of me is really on display. Is it the persona or the essence Perhaps the persona is indistinguishable from the essence when they’re formed together.
And that’s something to question every day: Am I forging my persona, my essence, or both?
How can we get them to converge, so no matter what we do, we know we’re acting on accord with our truest self? Our essence is our inner kid. To connect with it, we must do what brings us joy.
When I get up, light a candle, listen to the rain, and fumble around on the keys while the moon is still bright in the sky, I’m returning to my inner kid.
Because I know that this, the daily practice at least, is for me. I’m still scared; being afraid goes without saying. But at this point in life, I fear different things.
As an adult, I believe we grow by facing our fears. It’s all a beautiful learning experience in the end; that’s life. We get up on stage with a smile, or we don’t.
And then we’re done.
Why not enjoy the hell out of our time on earth like the kids that we are.