As I’ve said before, I need to work on patience. I hate to fail. I hate to feel mediocre. I hate to be rusty. But I try to step outside my comfort zone and do things I do not yet do well. It’s the only way to get better. This takes humility, in addition to patience. I’m thinking about my teaching, my research, my guitar playing, my meditation … my life in general.
I’m thinking about this, in part, from reading Edith Frost, an honest-to-goodness working musician, blog about practicing:
I need the practice, for my voice and my hands too. My left hand gets really shaky trying to hold the chords down. I’d be worried about arthritis except that it’s always been that way when I haven’t been practicing.
And Liz Lawley has been blogging her frustration in writing a paper for an upcoming conference:
There are so many people out there who have said what I want to say better than I can say it myself. And Iím by turns left appreciative, envious, grateful, bitter, and enriched by what they say … But the problem with reading wonderful things, for me, is that they often donít inspire me to greatness. Instead they leave me wanting to get down on the floor and cry out ìIím not worthy!î Which probably isnít a terribly healthy response.
I appreciate the frankness found in other people’s blogs because it teaches me that I’m not the only one who faces these issues. I sometimes worry that writing about when I’m feeling down or frustrated will create a negative image of me. But the other side is that someone reading my blog might find encouragement in my working through issues that they are also experiencing.
Finally, there’s this bit from the Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy tour diary, in which readers send him questions to answer:
q: I am teaching myself keyboad and guitar. I feel that I have a good ear. I am 34 years old and consider music to be good therapy. What I would like to know is some pointers on how to be better disciplined with practice and to keep my fingers from getting tied up together when playing.
a: trust that every time you practice you are getting better; it will seem just as hard because the challenges will grow proportionate to your ability.
I like how the answer ignores the part of the question about “discipline” and instead emphasizes self confidence and optimism. Just keep doing it. Trust that you’re getting better.