Wastefulness is weakeness

Emily - Snohomish, Washington
Entered on April 17, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe that wastefulness is weakness.

It’s easy to look back over your life and focus on your mistakes. But hindsight is 20/20. I think the biggest regrets come not from failures, but from wasting your opportunities to achieve.

When I was little, I was mesmerized by the piano. I loved to hear it. I loved people who could play it; I just thought it was fantastic. I always knew that one day I would be able to play. It was never a matter of if, only of when. But when I started taking lessons when I was about ten years old, somehow the dedication it demanded scared me off. Pretty soon, I had quit lessons, and I was back to dreaming of the day that I would wake up and miraculously have turned into Beethoven over night. That day never came, or it hasn’t yet anyway. The years went by, and I would plunk out little ditties on the keys, slowly learning to appreciate the instrument for all that it could do. But I still longed to play the songs the way they deserved to be played.

“If you want to do things, then do things,” as my brother recently told me. It was time to face the facts. If I ever really wanted to learn to play the piano, I would have to learn to play the piano. I think I finally understand that now. I started taking lessons again a couple years ago, and my teacher has the same encouragement: you just have to do it.

I’m getting over my apathy. It is a slow and humbling process that is opening my eyes to whole new opportunities, even beyond piano. Talent is a gift, but there are some things that you’ll only receive if you earn them for yourself. I see now that I have wasted my own time, and repentantly, the time of others along the way. But I also see that the opportunity is still there; it has to be because I make it myself.

I believe that wastefulness creates weakness out of possibilities. But I believe that using what you already have brings out strength you already have.