The journey that took me from launching my high school graduation cap skyward to softly pressing my B.A. in my hand was a circuitous one: I changed schools, changed schools again, took time off to work, changed schools once more, then crossed the stage on one blossoming day in May, and finished. I majored in soul searching.
In between searching was the dutiful act of learning: calculus, chemistry, child psych, economics, writing feature stories, Chaucer, Hobbits and Siren songs. Shoehorned among the core requirements for my degree in English were also several required Humanities electives, one of which was a music class.
My grandmother and my mother both tapped white and black keys so why not piano?
My instructor was a bit of a nervous, semi-chain-smoking, slender man in his 30s with slicked-back black hair borrowed from the '50s. He acted as though he'd half rather be someplace else but, deep down, I think he was just fooling himself.
I can prove this because there, in front of 88 keys and three pedals, I learned more than Fur Elise. The lesson that finally breached my outer layer of defense and stuck was that imperfection is OK. Over the course of 15 weeks, I'd hear my instructor say "Don't stop, just keep going" every time I'd hit the wrong key, drop my shoulders, sigh and sulk. He wasn't angry -- I wasn't on the path to virtuoso-hood -- he was just matter of fact, but on purpose.
"Play on" is a mantra composed by our human DNA. The joy of doing, seeking, learning, making mistakes, playing, getting stuck, taking entirely too long to get unstuck, and living spontaneously are all prerequisites to getting that degree in soul searching.