Day 22: List

It’s been difficult to get excited about doing anything these days. It’s been so difficult, in fact, that I now have a checklist of things I need to accomplish every day. They are things in which I’ve recently found little enjoyment. But the hope is that out of the monotony of practicing piano and learning a programming language and writing — which has largely become a checklist item — will come serendipity.

I admire people who have activities they enjoy. My favorite athletes are the ones who laugh on the field; my favorite musicians are the ones who smile on stage. I’ve always tried to be joyful in what I do, but I’ve been finding myself in front of a blinking cursor without any real words I want to write. I have many complaints, and many things on my mind. But unlike inspiration, which is like strands of pigment popping into water, these things are like marbles. They do not want to leave infect others with their contents. They are sterile and still, and it is likely better that way.

I know inside there somewhere, there might be something worth sharing — something I can do with a smile on my face. But for now, I don’t know what it is. So that’s why I have my list.

This idea comes from something I was forced to do as a kid. I didn’t like to practice the piano, so my teacher wrote a list on a notepad — I had to practice each song five times. I’d sit on my piano bench and play until each circle was checked off, even though I had no real motivation to do this. I hated playing piano. But several years later, after years of practicing, it became a gift. It was a languages more expressive than word.

It took something like 14 years for me to get to that mindset. But it’s the only things I know to do when there is an utter lack of joy. Just do it, my piano teacher would say. You will be so thankful for it she would say.

So I’m just doing it. I’m writing, I’m practicing, I’m learning. I’m finding small moments of transcendence, like the bridge of Deux Arabesque my Debussy. And I’m planting seeds here and there, hoping to harvest them with joy one day.

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