He sat quietly behind me, arms folded, a Cheshire cat grin on his face. “Let’s hear how you’re doing with Stairway to Heaven,” my teacher instructed. “Take your time and go super slow.”
I adjusted the bench beneath me and placed my fingers on the keyboard. Instantly I felt like an awkward teenager at her first piano recital. After playing a few notes, I stopped.
Ok, I’m going to make mistakes, I admitted feeling silly and shy. I have performance anxiety.
Josh, a young man in his mid-twenties, laughed out loud. “Don’t we all,” he said. “It’s okay, just go ahead anyway.”
I straightened the sheet music, took a deep breath, and started to play what I’d learned so far. When finished, I turned to find Josh silent and beaming.
What? I asked hoping it sounded okay.
“Nothing. I’m just happy for you. You’re doing it, Cheryl!”
We waited a few beats for the success to seep in before laughing out loud at our shared excitement and pride. It was a lovely, sweet moment and I left the lesson believing I just might be able to play the piano after all.
In three short months, I’ve learned how to learn something new: Go painfully slow so you form reliable new neural pathways. Practice for permanence, not perfection because repetition builds the confidence to stick with it. And stop before you get frustrated so it stays fun, otherwise, what’s the point?
The biggest lesson of all is that there is a way to age well that combines the curiosity and adventurous spirit of a teenager with the wisdom and experience of adulthood. It’s a formula that abolishes the belief that we’re too old to learn something new and that inspires us to take brave steps forward into the unknown.
I may be studying the piano, but my takeaway from this week’s lesson goes far beyond the keys:
If there’s a hold button on your life, it’s time to press play.
P.S. – Learn how to make aging fun and life-changing by listening to the audio workshop, Self Care for the Wisdom Years. You can learn more, here.