Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

True story: One summer, years ago, I went tubing…The sun was blazing, and the water was cool. It was a perfect day to close your eyes and let the current carry you. I was enjoying myself, until we rounded the final bend and saw the parking lot. I leaned back to get my arms in the water and I started to kick and paddle. In a froth of churning water, I passed my mom, my sister, my boyfriend and my brothers, and as I reached the dock, I shouted out, “I won!”

That’s me. All my life, I’ve made lists and set deadlines, never content, or even able, to just glide.

That kind of drive has served me well when aimed at challenges within my control, like writing a novel…I never stopped hoping that if I worked hard enough, wanted it badly enough, I’d finally get the acclaim that I craved…

That did not happen. And my brain, which had propelled me toward so many successes, could not push me past disappointment. Instead of focusing on everything that had gone right, including how lucky I was to make a living as a writer, it got stuck on what had gone wrong. Let’s think about it! my brain suggested, like a Roomba endlessly butting itself into a corner. Let’s think about it a lot. Especially at 3 in the morning. Let’s go over every single choice. Let’s dwell.

I tried yoga. I attempted meditation. Nothing helped. Instead, each spiritual setting and inner-growth-focused class presented new opportunities to compete: I held that pose for longer than anyone in the class. I’m way more Zen than she is. Finally, I remembered reading about how learning something new — creating new neural pathways — was a way to send your thoughts in different directions.

And so, after a 35-year hiatus, I started taking piano lessons again.

I had been an indifferent piano student as a kid…By high school, I had bumped up against the limits of my natural abilities. So I quit. I turned my attention toward activities at which I could excel…

Photo: videvo


  1. and that is enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Message received on this end – how about you, pal? May this be the best year ever – barring any comparisons 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Happy New Year, David. I’m glad you showcased this piece. “So I will persist … I will invite failure into my life…”. Those words jumped out at me this morning even though I have read the NYT article several times. For me, it is quilting rather than piano playing and life itself in this fourth year of retirement after a life of being in charge.

    The company is gone. The sun is coming up. Coffee scents the air. I am grateful for your persistence with this blog and your insight shared. You are good company along the way.

    Mary Ann


    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is great. I don’t have it in me. But I tremendously admire those with this attitude. I can’t deal with too many failures on my part. I have to have results right away.
    And yes, it is not too late, but I still don’t have it in me. To pick up something new at this age! Though the scientist in me knows we can always create new neural pathways.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This was great, David. As we try to find a better us (you ain’t the only one trying to “re-vamp” yourself into something (even) better 😉 ) we realise we can’t all be Forrest Gumps who seem to excel at everything they do 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Poor Jenni….. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. She was so right. She was a writer for a living yet focused on getting published, something that never happened.Thats me. Even though Im not doing much writing as a writer at work, they still changed my title to be one. We are never satisfied. Im going to start painting…something Ive never been good at. I need an atritude adjustment!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You’re still awake?
    Happy New Year, DK!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi David,
    Happy New Year.
    Keep up the great work.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sounds familiar… same story here. I’m having a hard time with practicing too, even though the logical part of my brain knows I’d probably get very good results doing so!
    I maybe take comfort in using the excuse, that painting is what I mainly concentrate on.
    Yet, I still believe, deeply that, time will come when my childhood yearning for piano fluency will be rekindled accompanied by the will to keep it up.
    It’s a matter of time…
    The right time.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Wow, just wow – that one sentence – not, that fraction of a sentence!!!!
    A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless…….

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ack! Somehow this post slipped below the radar, but I love it and have enjoyed the comments that followed just as much (one of the many great things about the DK blog–the way the community takes a topic and runs with it).

    This idea of not being perfect, the fear of putting oneself out there, the ‘need to succeed’ that too frequently gives rise to a stillborn willingness to risk, all so tough to surmount. And yet…. a while back you did a post (or maybe it was Bonnie) on choosing a word for the year rather than setting a resolution. Mine this year is ‘Give’ — give my ear to others, give some kindness to myself, give myself the permission to try something new and yes, perhaps fall flat, but give. As Strand points out so eloquently, ‘The sky has an opening….’ Happy 2019, pal!!

    Liked by 1 person

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