The new year doesn’t start for me on January 1st like it does for everyone else. For me, my new year doesn’t begin with fireworks, champagne toasts or a midnight kiss (well, it does sometimes). Like the rest of the world, I do make resolutions on new years though, except my New Year begins on September 5th, my birthday.
I love birthdays, specifically, I love MY birthday. It is a time to celebrate another year wiser and another year filled with experiences. These last few weeks, as my birthday approached, I begin reflecting over the previous year, things I’ve learned, challenges I faced, goals I’ve accomplished. And for the last few years, I’ve made a list of goals I wanted to accomplish based off the age I’m turning – 40 by 40, 41 by 41…you get the point.
But I noticed that as I grow and change throughout the year, my goals and interests change and they change quickly. What I wanted to accomplish in September may completely change by December. By the following year’s birthday, my list is segmented into: goals I’ve accomplished, goals I lost interest in and goals I still haven’t gotten around to. And instead of looking at the things on the list I did accomplish, I find myself looking at all that I missed.
So this year, instead of struggling to come up with 42 goals I want to accomplish by 42, I’m going to pick ONE thing and really focus on mastering it.
When I was seven years old, I asked my mom if I could take piano lessons. I had a small keyboard that my Grandma (who liked to spoil me) bought me and an old Learn to Play Piano Like Liberace songbook I think I picked up at a yard sale. I would painstakingly pound out the songs, henpecking each key, like someone just learning how to type on a computer. People would tell me that I had “piano player fingers,” slender and graceful. I began to imagine me playing like Liberace (whom back then, I pronounced Liber-ace).
My mom told me we couldn’t afford it and that was that. Over the years, I would enviously admire the piano player at church, the kid who played for our school choir, and at any and every summer camp when someone just sat down at the baby grand piano and could command the black and white keys to produce a melody. I tried other instruments – the clarinet in the 4th grade (so I could get out of class for a half an hour once a week), the guitar (because I wanted to play songs around a campfire), and singing (only because I liked a boy in the choir when I was 13 – the crush fizzed, my love for singing remained). Deep down, whenever I was near a piano player, I wished I could make music from that beautiful instrument as well.
So, 34 years later, I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to learn the piano. That is the one goal I am going to focus on this year. In the book, Big Magic, author Elizabeth Gilbert talks about her 40-something yer old friend who loved ice skating as a little girl and so she began to take lessons, just because it brought her joy. So, I’m going to put these piano playing fingers to use. Now, does anyone know where I can find a Learn to Play Piano Like Liberace book?
2 thoughts on “1 By 41: One Year, One Goal”
I grew up in a family of musician and my parents were forcing me to practice piano 4-5 hrs a day, every day. They wanted me to become a musician too. I hated it, and when I turned 22 and came to America, and finally had a choice, I put all my notes away and never touched piano again… That’s unfortunate because piano is a gorgeous instrument and I think that somewhere deep down in my heart I love it. Enjoy your new adventure! xx Zuma
I’m so sorry to hear that. Hopefully, one day, you will play and find the enjoyment in making music again.