This I Believe

Dawn - Raleigh, North Carolina
Entered on January 21, 2008

Life is like a sudoku puzzle. There are many unknown answers, but they exist. With patience, sudoku unfolds naturally. I believe in patience.

If I had been given a sudoku puzzle of my life when I was born, at least one of the known squares would have been filled with music. Music has always been my strongest skill and greatest passion, and piano my first instrument. I have turned to music throughout my life as I did at age 30, when I left a five year stint teaching middle school band. I loved teaching, but demands of the job left me feeling physically and emotionally drained. I also seemed to still be reacting to the brutal circumstances of my parent’s divorce, which had occurred when I was 13 but seemed to last a lifetime. I wanted to create a new life for myself, and I wanted it as soon as possible.

I hadn’t played piano consistently in years, and I started playing again excessively. I was positive that if I mastered a superior playing level, my life would somehow blossom and flourish. I practiced Bach to oblivion and Chopin on a rigid schedule. This pursuit, combined with a temp job that required excessive typing, quickly led to pains in my right hand just below my thumb. The smart thing to do would have been to stop, rest and reflect for a few weeks, but I closed the door on gentle nudges to wait, and patience brought out a wrecking ball. I actually tried to speed up the healing process by visiting a series of health-care professionals, until one pivotal and unfortunate experience left my hand in an extreme condition, swollen twice its normal size and in excruciating pain.

Instead of weeks it took months for the swelling and pain to subside, and months longer to rehabilitate. Slowly I started playing again. I had to learn over and over again to be patient, take small steps, let life happen naturally.

It has been five years since the initial injury. Now I play piano when I want to out of pure love. I have even started writing my own music and songs, something I had never considered. I love the creative process, and have cautiously ventured out to a few open mic nights. What I play is far from technically impressive, but it is true to me and a fun way to engage in life.

When I realize I could have been tapping my own creative energy years ago by cooperating with life’s attempts to redirect, I am reminded that I believe in patience. And like a sudoku puzzle, with patience, reflection and conscious choice, life’s answers will be revealed in the right time to make a perfect and unique design.