This post is dedicated to one of my readers, P., — thank you for the suggestion!
I started playing the piano when I was 7 years old. Bang bang bang…. When I streamed back into the HK education system after a few years running wild in Australia with my family, I had to learn the piano properly, taking examinations and theories.
I learnt to play Beethoven’s 5th Symphony – Da Da Da Daaaaaan! Da Da Da Duuuuum!!!!!
The relentless hours of practice in order to pass piano exams, which for me bore no importance or significance in my life, made me loathe Beethoven. And for that matter, I hated Mozart, Bach, Schumann, Chopin (UGH!), Handel, Schubert, Wagner… I could just tolerate Mendelssohn and Debussy for a few minutes.
Again, I wanted to be different. I turned to Jazz music. I tried to learn to jazz improvisation, only to find out, one does not “learn” it – you either have the ear for it or not. I did not, so I contented myself with listening to records. Anything but classical or opera music!
A few months ago, I met P at a talk I did. He had read my blog, and came to hear me talk more. I was flattered. We were not able to converse for very long that evening, but we kept in touch via email, even after he left Beijing. In one email, P suggested that I try listening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony to find some inspiration and encouragement.
At first, I thought to myself – I know that music score by heart, I WILL NOT listen to it. Over my dead body!
Mid-January came; I was in my blues and moping around the apartment. I got Timmie to bring out the mattresses from the Bear Room and put it in the living room. I carried all my bears out. I camped there for two nights, reluctant to go anywhere but the bathroom. I felt I was sinking again into an avalanche of snowy darkness.
I decided to rearrange the CDs. Rearranging things fulfils my obsessive-compulsive desire and has a calming effect on me. I came across the few classical CDs I had. Ah! Beethoven, that blind / deaf crazy genius dude!
Remembering what P had said, some demon in me urged me to put the CD into the player.
Da Da Da Daaaaaan! Da Da Da Duuuuum!!!!! Da da da….. The orchestra played with fervor. I could imagine the conductor’s head bouncing up and down according to the beat. The grandeur, the delicate twingles…
I sat through till the end. In a trance.
I got up, went to the CD drawer, and found a DVD to put into the player. It was a concert by Canto-pop singer, Sammi Cheng. She had her bouts of down days and after those struggles, metamorphosed. This was a concert she did after two years of rest and recuperation.
I swayed to the songs, and started singing, well, yelling loudly. Then I started jumping up and down on the mattress and dancing with myself. My dog, Bamboo, was nervous and afraid, and hid behind my bears.
I sang out of tune, as I always did. I danced waving arms up in the air with no finesse at all. The bears looked up and smiled at me, and I remembered how so many people ask why I was so childish to play with bears?
I was distracted from ruminating thoughts, I felt energized, and I was me!
I was being me. Why bother about others’ judgments, why be brought down by what others say or not do?
Have the courage to be you – even when the whole world thinks you are mad and will not accept you.
That’s what I got from Beethoven.