by Risa Green
I’ve been eager to write this post for a while, because it’s not every day that I actually have something new and exciting in my life on which to report. I was all set to write it about six weeks ago, but then the Horrible Tragedy of My Father  occurred, which had the effect of halting my life, as if someone had pressed the pause button on me. Well, not pause exactly, because my life continued to run at warp speed despite my wanting to do nothing but cry under the covers all day, so maybe more like a targeted pause, where all of the regular things that had to happen – like driving carpool and making dinner and going to the market – kept happening, but everything else got put on hold until I was ready to deal again.
But anyway, here I am, ready to press the play button on my life again, and I’m picking up precisely where I left off six weeks ago, which is where I declare that this year is going to be the Year of Me. Meaning that, the last seven years have been dedicated to my children and doing everything that I can to teach them and better them and improve their lives. But now that my children are a little bit older (read: gone for six hours every day), I’ve been thinking a lot about how there are all kinds of things that I would like to learn, and be better at, and improve upon. So, instead of just lamenting this fact, I am actually going to do something about it. Which is why, right before the HToMF, I started taking piano lessons. And why, now that I am in play mode again, I’m going to continue.
The thing about piano is that I played for a few years when I was a kid, but I hated practicing and I didn’t really care, and so I quit when I was ten. But as I got older, I always wished that I had stuck with it, because I love music, and it makes me sad that I can’t sit down at a piano and play anything except for that song you play with your knuckles. So, I found this guy who teaches some of the kids at my daughter’s school, and five lessons later, I can play almost all of Lady Madonna at a speed that is somewhere between excruciatingly slow and Paul McCartney, if Paul McCartney were on quaaludes and had one hand tied behind his back. But still, I’m playing music. And I love it.
I’m finding that learning something new as an adult is cool because I’m doing it because I want to, and not because my mom is making me, or because I think it will look good for college, or because it’s the right thing to do. The fact is, I’m doing this for the sheer joy of it, and it’s been a very long time since I’ve done anything like that. The other thing I’m finding is that learning something new as an adult is hard. Even if you have a challenging job, chances are that you’ve already developed the skills to do it well. But when was the last time you did something that was completely new, and that required you to concentrate really, really hard? I’ve realized that there’s a part of my brain that’s been dying a slow death ever since I became a mom, and when I try to read music, I can almost feel it firing off neurons, struggling to come to back to life – like Robert DeNiro’s character in Awakenings. It’s so hard, but unlike when I was a kid, I love how hard it is. Unlike when I was a kid, I love practicing. Unlike when I was a kid, I love the intellectual challenge of a new song. My little Yamaha electric keyboard is almost like having a new boyfriend – I’ve got something new and exciting in my life, and I can’t wait to spend time with it every day. Plus, it helps that my piano teacher is flirty.
There are other things I want to do this year, too. I want to teach myself French, because I think French is sexy, and I’ve always regretted that I took Spanish instead. I want to learn to play tennis, because I think it would be fun to have a sport that I could play with my husband. Of course, it can’t all happen at once. I don’t have the time or the money to commit to three extracurricular activities at the same time, but I’m going to do them, and I’m going to do them soon. After all, in the six weeks that I’ve been on pause, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder what life is all about. I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, it’s about cramming it full of people, experiences, opportunities, and, above all else, taking the time to do things that make me happy.