Well, it’s not quite November yet, but I really don’t get into Halloween at all, so why not jump right in to the gratitude scene a few days early. WHY NOT, I SAY.

One of the hardest things about this life we’ve chosen (grad school… Hawai’i… obscene cost of living in an itty bitty living space…) is that I don’t have a piano. I haven’t had access to a piano for 15 years. This is a dramatic and rather painful new time of life for me, as piano was my life’s blood, my passion, my obsession for my entire childhood and through my college years.


Me at the piano in college. Look at that thick hair. Where has THAT gone. #mid30woes

You might say my life can be separated into two periods: The Piano Period and the Piano Mourning Period.

I hate not having a piano. It aches. It physically aches me not to be able to sit at a majestic instrument, touch those keys, and, with it and with some of my favorite composers, bring beautiful music into the world. I cry occasionally about this loss, this missing piece of my heart, and am tearing up right now just writing about it.

Yes, piano and music mean that much to me.

But this is life right now. I won’t get a piano for a long time yet, and there are no clear ways for me to have access to one (believe me, I have looked and I have tried). So the other day, in the midst of a rather depressive episode about how much I hate our life here and how desperate I am for it to be over, I decided that I needed to try and practice gratitude.

Not for our life here. Not quite yet. I’m a work in progress there.

No, I am practicing gratitude for the time when I did play piano. I was able to learn how to play at a skill level not a lot of people get to attain. Certainly FAR below the talents of professionals and those who teach at colleges, but certainly above most people I knew. I got to know the intricate beauties of playing the piano — the minute changes in form that get the instrument to sing in just the right way, the way to touch the keys, the way to read black blobs of ink on a page and bring their intended beauty to life. I got to understand on an intellectual and deeply emotive level what music is, what it does, and what is so transformative and transcendent about it. I had years of that experience. It shaped me in a way I am so, so grateful for. It enriched my life in a way nothing else could. I think that’s pretty magical. I am deeply grateful for that time, and celebrating that time through a focus on gratitude is helpful when I start to feel this particular sadness. Because everything is temporary and the joys we have now are not guarantees of joys we’ll have in the future. I think that’s part of what it means to be human — broken into little pieces of the joys had and lost, but held together by some sort of assurance that joy returns in different forms and knowledge that our capacity for deep feeling and connection, even in the grief it results in, is a unique, abiding joy in itself.

All that about a box with some strings. Being human is something else.

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