I walk a fine line between “spontaneous” and “impulsive.” Most of my actions are calculated and considered in relation to consequences and alternate options, however the process of judgement is brief–I rarely linger over choices. I am embarrassed to admit, however, that the one factor capable of giving pause to my agile decision making is fear. I’m tempted to write something self-reassuring here like, “I don’t fear many things,” or “I enjoy risks,” but I think we all know that these kinds of proclamations are never true. On the surface, spiders and anesthesia are the heavy-hitters for me. I’ve written previously of my “four legs or less” rule when concerning animals, and I can say confidently that I would have no moral issue with disposing of a tarantula via double-fisted Uzis, a grenade, and perhaps some napalm for good measure. Until I acquire those materials, however, I will continue throwing objects from 12 feet away, whilst nervously stomping around and calling my Mom. As for anesthesia, it’s just really not an option. I would rather pass out from blunt trauma to the head than from some stranger forcing me to breathe chemicals that may or may not be in the correct dosage. I figure my chances of waking up are equally poor in either situation. Count backwards from 100? Just hand me a brick, I got this.
On a more subconscious level, there is one thing that I absolutely refuse to be afraid of, and that is myself. Very little is more disappointing and motivating than when I find myself fearfully avoiding decisions and situations because I dread the prospect of failure. Of course, my mental definition of success is usually laughable.
I didn’t master the French language in one semester, I should punish myself by taking a vow of silence.
My last relationship didn’t work out, so I should move to Switzerland and become a nun.
My souffle fell, so I should resign myself to an eternity of Hot Pockets.
These are sardonic examples, clearly, but I love that part of my humanity that plows my self-talk into an oppressive abyss for any misstep. I suppose that humility is necessary at times, although I’m consistently surprised with our ability to metaphorically burn ourselves at the stake for the silliest lapses. As of late, I’ve had a particular issue with a fabricated image of myself, one that depicts me as a person incapable of creativity and art. My sister is an impressive, self-taught artist. My best friend is an enviable musician and creative writer. My father is an accomplished businessman, with brilliant concepts for corporate creativity. Candidly, creativity scares me. I have not yet learned to let go of the fear of judgement, novelty, trial and error, or imperfection, so I made a decision in the interest of self-confidence.
I got a violin.
That’s right, I got a violin to prove myself wrong. I am starting from scratch,and as someone so accurately described the beginning stages of learning the violin, my music sounds like a sick cat. My notes are flat or sharp 85% of the time, I’m excellent at dissolving a beautiful tone from my bow into pseudo-melodic screeching, it takes me an eternity to tune the damn thing, and I only vaguely remember how to read music from my high school choir days. Yet, all this is because I had never touched a string instrument before yesterday, and as a newb, I am allowed a period of suck. I will continue my reverberant wailing until it becomes the pleasant tones I seek. I have spent my lifetime admiring those with a seemingly unattainable penchant for music: Heifetz, Krylov, Mutter and so many more. I have no aspirations of matching their talent and brilliance, but will be content to uncover a creative side I have previously held an irrational fear of.
Tips and musical advice from you violinists out there are always appreciated, and my comments are open.