Self-knowledge is like a stalagtite, drip fed and in persistent darkness. When the light does come, the stalagtite glows, an incandescent limestone jewel.
At the piano, I find the zone, the place where I feel okay to play the same three bars over and over and over again – right hand, left hand, right hand, right hand, hands together, left hand, left hand, hands together, add more on, try again.
I play it once through with only minor errors. I am jubilant. I play it again. A total mess.
Only faith drives me on. Faith that practise does make progress. Faith that the muscles in my fingers will eventually remember the keys strokes as surely as cracking an egg or peeling a potato.
Real life is rather different. Motherhood, friendship, empathy … I practise all the time. I make vows, rebuke myself, try to lock in experiences as learning tools. Unlike piano though, the music changes frequently and my muscles can’t lock the melody in with any confidence before we have changed key, or changed the tune all together.
When the light does come, it is tiny flashes – unpredictable as kids with torches. The stalagtite gleams briefly. It is fleeting, exotic, amazing. And then… the light is gone, the tune has changed and practise begins all over again.
I can’t help feeling frustrated by the inevitable turning of this wheel. I want to be smarter, wiser, more in tune. Watching others, I see nothing of their struggle. Maybe everybody is as frustrated as me by the almost persistent darkness.
It’s so hard to tell. We each hide our darkness, our confusion. We practise in private. In public, we don our concert garb, blinking in the sunshine, and stumble forwards with determination.
“Fake it ’til we make it”.