It was 3:11 a.m. when I awoke. Here in my 5th month of pregnancy, it was rare that I’d spend an entire night sleeping. Getting up to go to the bathroom, a nightly occurrence now, I was undoubtedly still very much tired and in need of sleep. Yet, as has been the case so often lately, my thoughts began to play in my mind. Warm and back in bed, my 5 year old son snuggled in next to me, I lay there attempting to go back to sleep.
Then, a memory. A realization of the dreams I’d been having just prior to waking.
I had been playing the piano… a talent and skill which I do not possess. But in the dream, I knew that I could play, magically somehow. You know how it can be in dreams – you can do anything.
In fact, I was due to play a song on the Oprah Winfrey show. And walking up to the piano, I knew that I did not know how to play. I couldn’t imagine what notes my fingers were going to hit. That produced a fear and a worry inside me, which logic told me I could overcome if I just kept moving forward.
Siting down at the piano, I gave great effort place my fingers onto what I thought might be the exact right notes. I played a few individual, isolated notes. They were the wrong ones and I stopped immediately. Oprah and the crowd certainly noticed and made commentary. But I decided to begin again.
Placing both hands in what felt like the ‘right’ position, I began to let go.
I decided to not think about it, but to rather let my hands just move, flow.
When I was a child, in church I would often sit on the piano stool beside my grandmother as she played. She had an ear for music that was hard to describe unless you saw and heard it with your own eyes. My whole life I was amazed by her ability and it was such a sight to witness. Without reading a note of sheet music, she could listen to a song and begin playing it. It was a true gift.
What always fascinated me, watching her as a child, was how her hands moved. They were so quick and light. They seemed to bounce around the piano keys, far and wide, hitting just the right notes. She seemed to add in little extra accent notes at every opportunity, pinky fingers extended out to the furthest key for an extra little enhancement.
Her hands were so fast, so lively. So confident. So skilled. All ten fingers seemed to be working effortlessly to create this beautiful southern gospel music. Songs I’ve cherished my entire life.
How she was able to do this, play by ear and make it seem so effortless is a mystery to everyone in the family. But it brought so much joy.
Here I was in this dream setting with Oprah and an audience, an unfamiliar piano and a song I did not know how to play. I decided to play as I’d seen my grandmother do so many hundreds, or possibly thousands of times in my life. To let my hands bounce around the keys, with fervor… with no thought.
Somehow I knew that taking the striving out of it, taking the efforting out of it, taking the ‘thinking about it too hard’ out of it, that it would just flow.
I placed my hands on the keys and all at once, began playing. My hands rapid and seemingly, on auto-pilot. And the song came.
The song came, exceptionally. Miraculously. Because I did not know how to play it, and yet here it was coming forth from my hands. Wow. Incredible.
Yet there was an ease lacking from it. I was still working too hard. My hands were downright feverish and not in fact, effortless. I was moving faster and faster trying to keep up.
Fear crept in that I would not be able to do it. That I would not continue hitting the right notes. That the inspiration, or whatever divine force was causing, or allowing, this to occur, would stop suddenly and let me down. That I had to force it.
It was the song alright. It was recognizable. It was okay.
But it was work. It was difficult. It was uncomfortable. It was not flowing into beauty.
Relieved that I had played the song at all, having seen my hands move in just the right way to produce the right notes at the right time in the right order, I stopped. Moments later, looking back at the piano, thinking of starting again, I realized I had no idea what notes to play. Thinking about it, I could not place my finger on one right note at all.
This dream, like so many of our dreams, holds significance. And I don’t need a dream dictionary, in this case, to parse out its meaning.
What have I been wanting and desiring so intensely these last weeks and months, but to be in the flow of inspiration. To be in ease. To be in a state where the new music just comes to me. Where I am directed, guided to play something new, beautifully.
For months I’ve been quietly singing around my house…. ‘change ‘gon come’ (A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke), and I’ve felt it intensely. And these last two weeks I’ve been immersed in new spiritual readings (Life Visioning and A Course in Miracles). I’ve been on nature walks for nearly 2 hours in solitude. Meditated often in front of our fireplace here in wintertime.
But it’s not the piano that I wish to play.
On a broader scale, it is life, certainly. Life is what I wish to play with ease, with expertise, bringing beauty and joy and inspiration to others.
But the funny thing is, as I lay there thinking about the keys of the piano, my two hands twirling away, quick, quick, quick movements. As much as you can move your fingers in the shortest time, the image of a keyboard came to me. It’s the same appearance in my mind of two hands resting on a computer keyboard as it was with my two hands resting on the piano keys/keyboard.
And what have I been doing here but diving into this writing for weeks now. In 3 weeks on this blog, I’ve written more content than I ever did for my last blog in over a year’s time.
The words, the inspiration – I write when it flows. And what comes out are thousands and thousands of words. Not hundreds, thousands.
When I feel like I am striving too hard to make it work…. When my fingers slow down a bit too much and I become to thoughtful about it (think analytical), I know I need to step back.
My hands have moved with such a quickness when writing. Almost faster than my thoughts could carry them. Where do the words come from?
There is this balance. When you start a project, when you have, for instance, an online business, there are hard facts involved. There is strategy, there are numbers to crunch. Yet, when the project or business is based on inspiration, there also has to be a letting go. Showing up to let it happen.
It’s after 4am now, which means that with the time I spent lying in bed pondering included, I’ve been up for an hour. This writing occurred inside of 20-25 minutes.
Not hours, not days, not weeks striving to make it perfect. But just typing as quickly as my fingers will let me move.
What is happening in your life right now where you feel you are striving too hard but not hitting the right notes? Where do you find your inspiration? Have you ever felt that you were operating in the flow?
I’d love to read your comments below.
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