[Harp-L] Re: How do you break through a wall?


There seems to be "crisis points" in every life, similar to your dilemma.
There is a strong desire to accomplish some very ambitious goal(s).
There is also considerable pressure (usually self-imposed) in some
other direction (too many family things to do, starting too late in life, etc.).
The dissonance between your goal(s) and your available time and
energy seems to be obstacles too great to overcome.

My older brother is a professional pianist. He is married with adult child.
He has devoted his life to playing piano. (Perhaps you might call it a
"magnificent obsession".) He devotes time EVERY DAY to playing and
learning something new in music on piano - and he has been doing
that since he was 5 years old; he's now 66 years old. He is one of the
best gospel pianist that I know about, and I say that because some of
best known gospel pianists have said the same thing.

My youngest brother started learning piano about 5 years ago. He
started when he was 50 years old. He also is a outstanding independent
consultant on Social Security and Medicare. As he learned, the desire to
play better began to consume him. He asked our older brother how long
it would take him to reach the same level of skill. The answer (which was
NOT encouraging) was 61 years, devoted to the piano to the exclusion
of other things. Obviously, my younger brother was discouraged from
setting that as a realistic goal. A realistic appraisal for his family time, his
work time, his remaining expected life span, etc. indicated that the goal of
playing as well as our older brother was not realistically achievable. He
began to focus more on enjoying playing, and he has made great progress
with considerably less frustration since then.

Life is a continual choice of tradeoffs. Only YOU can decide if your goal(s)
are realistic and achievable within the time of your hiatus (1 year or more) -
or in your lifetime. It's very daunting to consider the tradeoffs between goals
and other responsibilities, especially family restrictions on time. That is more
likely the reason for the feeling of "impass" rather than the goals themselves.

Keep in mind that it is NOT the end result that is important. It is more important
to ENJOY striving to reach those goals, within the framework of your value
system. Believe it or not, once you reach these goals, you will then set your
sights on even more ambitious goals! The process never ends until we die.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (Hopefully, that doesn't offend
anyone; no real elephants were killed and eaten in creating this aphorism.)

Instead of looking at the END result, resolve to IMPROVE in one of the
chosen areas IMMEDIATELY. As has already been suggested, pick some
ONE thing to work on IMMEDIATELY. Arrange your goals in such a way that
achieving ONE thing brings you closer to also achieving another. For
example, sight reading on one instrument seems like it would help you reach
your goal of sight reading on all 3 instruments. Or, pick one diatonic harp, and
work on ONE additional key using that one harp. By doing SOMETHING toward
your goals, you move out of the "freeze" caused by the large distance between
where you are and where you want to be at the end of your hiatus. ANYTHING
that moves you from your current condition toward your stated goals is
PROGRESS! The sense of accomplishment will encourage you to continue to
strive toward your goals.

I started martial arts training when I was 40 years old. I "knew" that most black
belts begin training when youngsters. I did not set a goal of becoming the next
Grand Master of my style; I simply wanted to participate in a healthy set of
exercises, and learn some self-defense techniques. I also considered it to be
a life-long learning process. Because I stuck with it, learning each technique
and kata a little at a time, I became (10 years later) a fourth degree black belt
(earned the hard way, on the mats). If I had set that level of skill as a goal when
I first started, I would have never thought it possible, and would have been
discouraged from ever taking the first class.

I started playing harmonica 6 years ago. There are still heights I want to climb,
but I am certainly enjoying the trip up the mountain!


Good luck!
Crazy Bob

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