Messy Music: the imperfect performance.

Life can be more like an elementary school band than an ivy league symphony.

How can we reach perfection, Mozart like genius, that centers us in the moment with no need to look beyond?

It can be very frustrating when we know there’s a symphony inside us, but all we hear are misplaced horns and grating instruments out of tune.

It can be painful when we envision ourselves winding the marble staircase toward chandelier heights when the actors in our play disappear before curtain call.

I’ve reached the stage but it’s not Carnegie Hall. It used to bother me more until I attended a performance there, while I had a cough I couldn’t contain. The performer was a renowned pianist who was far from flawed. Aside from his fingers dancing across the keys, you couldn’t hear a pin drop and just as perfect as his performance from that magnificent stage, I was miserable trying to be the perfect audience member. I had to time my coughs to the claps and the claps were an art-form of their own.

I grew up in a musical family and as a child, I couldn’t stand goofing around when it came time to practice or perform. Quickly, I realized wanting perfection and earning perfection are two different things. Making music can be messy and life can be too. “Perfection” comes at the cost of other luxuries life affords, such as, having a social life, being married or raising a family.

Maybe it’s the mess, the war-zone of creativity, the uncontrolled environments that polish our diamonds unveiled in centuries to come.

It’s our collective angst, yearning for perfect harmony and uninterrupted beauty – that keeps us in our seat to watch a painfully amateur performance hoping against the odds, that one day, the brightest spotlight will hush the most amateur of audiences.

Perhaps I had not the talent or the time to turn my rattle into perfect rhythm or my prose into tantalizing meter—but I’ve come to see the beauty of crying babies and ornery cymbals. I’ve come to realize that it takes just as much discipline to keep making messy music in the middle of life, as it does to hone one’s craft while living alone in perfect isolation.

I’ve chosen the mess. Or the mess has chosen me.

But as long as I live, I’ll long for perfection.

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