identity

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Flowers grow. A seed falls, it sprouts, takes root, blooms. An insect pollinates it, the flower goes to seed, the cycle begins again. This is what flowers do.

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Birds are hatched, fledge, find a mate, nest, lay eggs and the cycle begins. This is what birds do.

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I bought this baby grand piano when my father helped me buy my first house. It was a long-time dream to learn to play and enjoy hours of music. This was 23 years ago. I have moved this piano eight times, three different states. I have never taken one lesson. I have bought reams of sheet music and taught myself to plink out a couple of tunes (“Simple Gifts”, “The Ash Grove”) but never learned chords. My father had been proud of me for pursuing this dream. But he never asked was I taking lessons nor took me to task about it. I was proud of it. Just having it I believed added a dimension to me that made me feel important. A false dimension. I gave it tangible importance to a relevant yet never fully realized relationship with my father. I grew up believing I was the family screw up, joke, the useful clown diversion when things went south. So this piano I believed gave me a credibility it could never give, especially since I could not play it.

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So I have been burdened lately over this piano. Felt guilt, even. I have enjoyed it for these many years as a piece of furniture, covering it with smiling family photos, a favorite crystal bowl that was my mother’s, scattered pictures of rescue dogs. A musical instrument should be played, loved. Yet I had allowed it to be assumed into who I was, even extending the assumption to a connection with my father who passed away over 12 years ago.

Let it go.

I won’t say I hear voices but this was close. I had to disengage from a created aspect of my life that wasn’t real. It was hard. For a time as I mulled this over I regretted never learning to play. Disappointed that I may have even wanted to have it because my talented mother had played but because she had hated the years of lessons would not allow me as a child to have lessons.

Yet still, this was a piece of furniture virtually unused in any function except a superficial one of a very large coffee table.

After this grappling and deliberating, realizing this had to be a choice I made separate from anyone else’s wishes, and looking into the future— if I had already had the piano for so many years and never learned to play, how likely was it that I would ever learn?

Not very.

So I separated myself from the false identity I had created. I let the piano go to a family of musical people who had always wanted one and would play it and love it and enjoy it as it should be enjoyed.

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I suppose I will always keep a wisp of the dream of learning to play and the place where the piano was still surprises me when I walk into the room and it’s not there.

But I am no less without it.

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14 thoughts on “identity

  1. I think we all have one of these things that we hold onto and will never do – I think I still own about 7 books on “how to write a novel” and I long ago realized, I will never write a novel. What’s funny about your story is that a few years ago, I bought an organ. A church organ, complete with pedals and two rows of keys. I can play a few songs. I turn it on about once a month and diligently practice scales. Then I feel accomplished and leave it for another month. It is, however, a lovely piece of furniture and I’m not letting it go – because it’s too darned big to move!

  2. Very beautiful, your honesty is such a gift. Your father would be so proud and happy I believe knowing that this piano he gifted to you with love in his heart, you as well, year later, would also gift it to someone else with love in your heart. Maybe all along that was what this piano’s purpose was…to pass on love and memories of what it means to share and gift others.

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