This year, I decided (as one of my NY resolutions) to learn an instrument. So, the first week of January I went and got myself a viola – an instrument that I’ve always admired.
I am a ball of white-hot judgment. Much of it is directed at me and things I do and I was shocked at the immense amount of judgment I had toward myself in the simple task of getting an instrument – “Why are you doing this?” “You’re too old to start playing an instrument!” “That bitch across the street is looking at you in a funny way – she knows that you are going to get that instrument.”
The reality of it of course is that I should be proud of myself. I’m doing something that I want. This thing that I want will make me happier person. And instead of letting this judgment get to me, I’m pushing it aside and stepping way outside of my comfort level.
So, I got the instrument and surprise of surprises, no one in the store judged me. Instead they were all more than happy to help me and were thrilled I was learning how to play. They even helped me find a studio and a teacher.
As I wait in the reception area of the studio, there is this 60-something year old man who has lessons at the same time I do. One day, a few weeks later, while I waited for the lesson before me to finish, this guy asked me what I played, I told him and he asked me how long I had played for. I told him – with a massive wave of judgmental embarrassment – four weeks. As I anticipated some judging look, I was surprised to find that he had only starting playing the clarinet six months earlier, and I was suddenly relieved to know I wasn’t alone in starting an instrument when I was ready to start one.
In these last two months or so, my repertoire has grown from squeaky noises to a French folk song, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. The last two, were initially met with another wave of embarrassment – I’m 26 (clearly decrepit) and this is what I’m playing? – but then I realized that if I’m not going to allow myself to master the basics of my (new) craft, I have no right to pursue it.
One last thing, the girl who has a lesson directly after mine is six and naturally my first thought was – “That six year old girl can play the violin better than I can, she’s probably practicing a Bach Concerto for a child symphony that she is a member of that is filled with children who are better than me” – which was immediately followed up by – “I’m comparing myself to a six year old” – and all I could do was laugh at myself for my ridiculous behavior and then I remembered how proud I was to do what I was doing.
And somehow this scrappy, little box of wood has completely fulfilled me and has helped me let go of so much judgment.
I play “Twinkle, Twinkle” for myself and it’s totally my Bach Concerto.