I had a classmate who was really good at math. It came easily to her, like breathing. Math was . . . incomprehensible to me. I’ve learned since it isn’t that it’s incomprehensible, it’s just hard. I pass math by judicious application of ass to seat and pen to paper. I struggle and struggle and do problem after problem. I Math is blood and tears. I earn every B in math.
I took my ball of frustration and heartbreak. My rage. I took them to Lori. My classmate, she had this gift and she didn’t understand it as such. She solved the hardest math problem with ease. Nothing seemed to bother her and everything bothered me.
Lori had me listen to this classmate play the piano. She was technically perfect. Never missed a note, kept perfect time. It was technically perfect and that was all. There was nothing to carry you away. Everything was numbers to this classmate. Everything could be solved. Everything was black and white.
Lori told me that the way I was, it was harder. It would hurt more. But it would be better in the long run. I would live a richer life with the odd missed note and an inability to understand theoretical math. Messy life, real life, true life, it was found in muddy puddles of grey.
I came home from doing a difficult thing today and curled up on my bed with Sammy the Sea Otter, and I cried.
I cried because tonight I don’t want to be warm and kind and empathetic. I don’t want to understand that there are many human situations which are deep muddy puddles of grey.
I want to be hard and cold and unyielding. I could live with playing the piano with technical precision and no passion, if it meant hurting less. I could live without the highs, if it meant missing out on the crashes. Missed notes and passion are not worth the moments when it hurts like this.
In 22 years I’ve learned this: however much I wish I could be hard as iron, it isn’t in me. It’s not an option. Let me play the piano, I will miss notes, I will lose time. And I will let passion carry me away.
And sometimes, it will hurt. Pain that comes hard and fast and it sears.
It’s ok to curl up and cry when it hurts like this. Those moments too are missed notes and lost tempo.