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I have a piano student who frequently, a few minutes into the lesson, flips to the back pages of the book and pretends to play the much harder music. He flits his hands across the keys hitting random, discordant notes in the hopes of suddenly knowing how to play piano. He’s brand new at this and is still at the early stages of learning to read music. So I feel his frustration at wanting to be there already.

I used to ask my therapist, all the time, “When will I be done? When will I not feel bad anymore, and when will I have all this hard learning stuff behind me?” The answer was always a frustratingly vague ‘eventually’. I ‘eventually’ stopped even asking because no one knows whether you are growing on a particular day or whether you are in a holding pattern. Growing takes a while and it is so sneakily invisible unless you are looking hard.

We recently drove our teenage son back to college for the start of the spring semester. Whew! We survived the winter break. It was six weeks long and boy was it challenging. We had a great family vacation together out of town, but much of the rest of the time our son was exerting his independence and chafing against the idea that he is still a kid still only on the brink of adulthood. Oh how he wants to be there. He’s killing me with his anxiousness.

It’s all the same thing, isn’t it? The very healthy, meritorious desire to grow and be better than we are right now. To make the beautiful music, and not hit the discordant notes, right now. But I know for sure, that if you are not hitting bad notes, not falling down and getting bruised, you are not learning. It happens when we try and it happens when we dream of the better day.

My only caution, to myself more than anyone, is to enjoy today and the hitting of bad notes, as much as what we believe is in store for our future.