It was more of a toy than anything else, with terrible sound quality and powered by two AA batteries. Yet it had enough power to generate a painful experience early in my life.
I loved that little piano.
I carried it around because it was so small and portable. My preferred spot to sit and play was in the little tree-house in my backyard.
When I would sit in my tree-house and play, there was nothing but music. There was no self-consciousness. There was no ego. It was just music, and I was the conduit that let it flow.
I learned to translate the beautiful music in my mind into the finger movements that could cause a shadow of what I imagined to emerge in the wavering electronic sounds from my little piano.
My mother eventually noticed my music. My father was a penny pincher, but my mother insisted that piano lessons would be worth the expense.
I didn’t take well to piano lessons. It just wasn’t the same as letting the music flow through me. Piano lessons were too formal and structured for my liking.
Nonetheless, I cooperated with my mother’s plan. I learned the basics and one day in high school found myself invited to play at a recital for piano students at a nearby college.
I’ve never been comfortable with performance situations. I clam up. My hands seem like they belong to someone else, and I focus on my fear of failing.
The music dies. It stops frolicking in my mind and retreats to hide from the fearful focus of my anxious thoughts.
That’s what happened as I sat at the grand piano on stage, hundreds of music majors and professors of music gathered to hear their star pupils.
I felt fantastically inadequate. I did not belong. I suddenly felt angry at my mother for thrusting me into this uncomfortable situation.
Despite all this, my fingers began to play. The melody emerged as I focused on the technical qualities my piano teacher had asked me to display with this particular piece of music.
Then I froze.
My self-consciousness came flooding back as I recognized the hardest part of the musical piece. It was at the top of the next page, and I was just finishing the final notes of the page before it.
I felt the heat of the bright spotlight in my face. I projected myself into the minds of the college students in the audience, wondering who this little prick of a high school student thought he was showing up at a college recital.
A terrible noise jarred my senses.
The dissonant chords ripped my mind back to the music I was supposed to be playing.
I tried again. Nothing but noise.
I repositioned my fingers and tried the chord again. Still nothing but the noise one would expect from this chimpanzee who somehow got access to a grand piano.
For a moment, I froze in a terrible panic. It seemed I was stuck. My hands refused to play the melody I had practiced so many times.
I felt my face flush and my angry pulse ensured that I knew the seconds were ticking by as the audience sat in total silence.
Then something inside of me broke.
It was my ego, I think. I suddenly didn’t care. The ruse was up. I was clearly a fake. There was no longer any need to pretend I was a musician.
That’s when I remembered the music. It really was beautiful. I decided it deserved to be played. I thought about what it should sound like, and I ignored the paper in front of me.
I gave up on trying to make the right impression. I wished I was back in my treehouse, where the music was my friend…a fairy that danced around me, inviting me to hear the beauty in the music.
And suddenly I was grateful.
I was grateful for the beauty of music. At that moment, it seemed I would not be able to take my self-esteem home with me…but at least I could take the music.
So I played.
I played like I had never played before. Whoever remained seated at that bench, it wasn’t me. I was no longer present. I was the music. I focused on it so completely; I was filled with the joyful abundance of beauty that presents itself in music.
I wish I could have learned the lessons of an abundance mindset before that experience, but then I may not fully appreciate the power it holds.
Focusing on what you want displaces fear.
When my mind focused on the music I wanted to hear, my fingers obeyed. As long as my mind had been focused on the fear of failure…desperate to control my fate…the music was crowded out.
Mind what you focus on. In your relationships, focus on what you want. The things you appreciate.
Do this, and the best in you will shine.