When you don’t feel very proud of your personal performance, it can be easy to believe that what you have done is not worth much. Sometimes we may be surprised to find out that our work was more impactful or had been more meaning than we otherwise thought.
Do What You Do
We are called upon to do many things in life. We explore, trying out new things. Not all the spaghetti that we throw at the wall seems to stick. Some things we find out we’re not all that good at. Some things we might have thought cool, but we received feedback that dissuaded us from going further. Sometimes we just feel like we don’t have much to offer in certain areas. But in those moments, it might be worth having a bit of faith that what we do matters more than we think. You might find out later that you inspired someone.
I love good music. I love making good music on the keyboards. As I’ve developed in my proficiency on the piano, I’ve never felt that original composition was one of my strong suits. It’s always been rough going when I tread into creating themes that follow a musical form or proper chord progression. But my piano teacher gave me the opportunity about once a year to create an original composition. The title I chose for my piece reflected my lack of inspiration for the whole project: “Jake’s Jig”. Successive projects donned similar titles, such as “Jake’s Jig #2” or “Variations on Jake’s Jig”. I never thought they amounted to much. I really still think they don’t.
But recently I had a chance to talk to a friend of my father’s. He said that he and his family had been at the piano recitals where the Jigs had made their debuts. His child had evidently found the Jigs compelling and proclaimed that someday he would like to write a piece of music like Jake’s Jig. That he still remembers this comment made about 20 years ago made me laugh when he told me. Are you serious? I really always thought my pieces were lack luster. This was perhaps reinforced by my middleschool music composition class teacher who pretty much told me that exact thing.
This revelation, which he shared with me a month ago, has really caused me to pause and wonder. There are things we do that we take no great pride in and see as so second rate. But these things – we – might be, in a real way, inspiring others at the very time we’re despairing. Perhaps the next time we’re berating our own performance, we’d be wiser to remember this phenomenon.
What’s something that you always thought you did poorly but later found out you had inspired some unknown admirer?