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Transcending Failure

I have failed at almost everything in my life.  Even the things I’ve succeeded at, I mostly consider a failure.

When I was a child, growing up in a cult, I was a very driven, and extremely intelligent, person.  Even at seven or eight years old I had it in mind that I wanted to start a company and be very successful.  Of course I failed at that, and I lost site of that particular dream, but what I never lost sight of was the drive.  Over my life, my dreams changed, but I pursued every single one with a single-minded tenacity that lasted right up until the next dream.  And I failed at nearly every single one.

The only one I did not fail at was having a job related to computers and becoming a computer engineer or some such, and now that I have that kind of position, it turned out to be a rather malformed dream anyway.

One of the reasons for this was, paradoxically, related to my rather fearsome intelligence.  Truth is, many things came (and come) very easily to me.  There are many things I’ve done in my life that I turned out to have something of an innate skill at.  I’m pretty good at anything regarding language, music, some forms of art (though I have never been able to draw worth crap), science…  in fact, I think that from a raw intelligence perspective, there is probably nothing in the world that I couldn’t do or accomplish, if I had the drive for it.

But along with that comes a pretty major pitfall.  There are some things that do not come easily.  And often those things are related to becoming anything more than competent at whatever it is I’m trying to do.  And for those things, I never learned how to transcend that.  

I hear many intelligent people have that problem.

Today I had my first actual piano lesson in a very long time.  I think my last one was at Morningside College in Sioux City, and I lived in that area of the country from about 2001 to 2005.  Meaning, that I haven’t had a piano lesson in twenty years or so.

While my teacher did find a few things to criticize (and I would have been disappointed if she hadn’t, because that would mean she was not competent enough to teach me anything), her general takeaway seemed to be that I was very advanced and just needed some exercises and practice to get me to the next level.  In fact, she said “if you do these things, in a month you might even feel like a concert pianist”.

I have never felt like a concert pianist.

I am, right now, faced with the actual possibility of actually not failing at something.

And, truthfully, that is such a foreign idea to me that I don’t know what to do with it.

I’ve been playing piano on and off for at least thirty years now.  I went to college as a piano performance major and failed so hard it had a large part in destroying my mental health for years.  I have never felt competent at the piano, or at any kind of music.  In fact, if I could be said to have impostor syndrome for anything, it would be piano.  And yet, thirty years later, it seems that somehow I have gained enough competency that I might even be said to be good at it, and maybe could even become great with the right effort and application.

How did that happen?

Well, I’m going to try.  I’m going to ganbare.  I’m going to try my best.  What do I have to lose, except for more mental health I don’t really have anyway?

Now…  if I could figure out how to not feel like an impostor in Japanese, that would be great…  that I am pretty clearly failing at, and even having started actual lessons, I don’t see how I’m going to get past it.

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