I remember like it was yesterday.
I was 12 years old and my mom had just bought me my first “real” keyboard. I don’t recall much but I do remember being at Guitar Center all day long as she master negotiated the lowest deal possible. It was like we were buying a car.
By the end of the day, we walked out of there with a new keyboard, amplifier, stand, bag, sustain pedal, and cords — all for the price of just a keyboard! (I wish I could do that these days at the car dealership. I’m usually like “give me that one!” “Where do I sign?”)
Prior, I had a radio shack keyboard. Don’t get me wrong, it did the job and along with my grandma’s antique piano, I had more than enough to develop my skills (“It don’t matter where you start… only where you finish.”)
Unfortunately, the excitement of owning a real keyboard was short-lived when one day, while carrying the amplifier that was bigger than me, I tripped on a step, fell to the ground, and the amp crushed my thumb into 3 parts.
Doctors said my thumb would never be suitable for the piano and I better start learning how to play with 4 fingers. Three months after that, I dislocated my right pinky, which you can still notice til this day.
I was determined to play though. I played with one hand. I learned to play with the fingers I had left. I didn’t let any of this stop me. I couldn’t.
I once heard a quote: “A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.” (Author unknown).
I made the turn. And another. And another.
In fact, 12 was a very special age for me. I don’t remember all the things that happened at 12 but it’s a year I always go back to, mentally. It stands out more than any other adolescent year.
At that age, you couldn’t bribe me off the piano. I could hear a song and 3 minutes later, be playing it exactly as I heard it. Choir directors would bring their boom boxes to church, let me hear the song at rehearsal, and a few minutes later, was teaching it to the choir with full music, compliments of this 12 year old.
And guess what, just 1 year after that unfortunate accident with my fingers, as a 13-year old, I was playing for 5 churches and 2 regional children choirs. A couple years after that, had half a dozen part time students and started a gospel choir at my school. A year later, started hearandplay.com. Fast forward some years and now I reach over 2 million musicians every year.
Moral of story?
Don’t let your circumstances control you… you control them. If I had given up, if I had given in, if I had said “I hate this keyboard because it crushed my finger” or cast blame on my situation, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And chances are, you wouldn’t be reading my words right now.
Little turning points in life affect us years down the road. At every turn, there is a decision to make and when you turn one way versus another, the effects of that decision will be felt many miles (years) down the road.
I’m reminded of the Butterfly Effect, which essentially asserts that a butterfly flapping its wings can cause changes in the atmosphere that effect a huge weather event in another place of the world. Put another way: “Small hinges swing big doors.”
So as you go about life and strive to achieve and accomplish certain things — whether music or otherwise — think about the long term effects of your decisions and response to adversity and setbacks.
If you have little children, them witnessing mommy or daddy accomplishing something can affect their attitude towards achievement many years down the road whereas if they observe the slightest hint of you giving up, acting defeated, being easily frustrated — those things can have an impact on them in the same way.
Remember the butterfly.
That’s all I have for you today.
Until next time -