benchmarksblog

WHAT I LEARN FROM LIFTING & PLAYING

Month: February, 2015

HOOKS AND JABS

Every once in a while, I call an alternate activities week.

I take a break from lifting and focus on other fun fitness things to do with my trainer.

Like boxing.

In my mind, I’m just getting a solid total body workout with cardio thrown in for good measure.

My trainer verbalized otherwise though.

He said, “Since I’ve packed a solid 30lbs of muscle on you, might as well be able to learn how to use it.”

To which I replied, “This is for looking pretty, it’s not for doing shit.”

And because I let my guard down to mouth off, I took a smart uppercut to the jaw as his comeback.

The truth is, I’ve never had to physically defend myself.

But confronted with insult, my sassy mouth has gotten me in trouble plenty of times

I know I can, and should, turn the other cheek.

After all, what good can come of being able to hit like a man when I’m still spitting like a girl?

FLOWER DRUM SONG

Legend has it that a Chinese empress, in profound vanity, commanded the court musicians, in the dead of winter, to keep on playing until all the plants in her garden had been coaxed by the beautiful melodies to return to full bloom.

I played the traditional folksong that tells this tale for a guest this week, who asked for “something from your native land.”

When I finished, he smilingly tipped me a five, commented, “that tune sounded like a bunch of bullshit,” and walked away.

Because it’s Chinese New Year, no harsh words are to be spoken for the next fourteen days.

So I keep silent, holding on to my serenity with both my hands, for fear that one of them might reach out and slap the stupid ignorance off this man’s face.

I wish I could tell you that I kept silent because the word and love of God resides in my heart, and I was moved by the holy spirit to act likewise in kindness, forgiveness and humility.

We don’t really make resolutions on Chinese New Year either, but if I did, it would be to act righteously for all the right reasons.

 

LOVE’S LABOR

I remember kissing him as he lay half asleep in bed, dashing out the door, putting on my tie and shoes in the car while fighting rush hour traffic, and the immense relief as I sat on the bench to begin playing for dinner service at 5 on the dot.

Had I known this would be our last Valentine’s Day together, I would have subbed out the gig entirely to spend the night together.

I was supposed to be home by 9. We had reservations at a steak house we both liked. Not because the food was great but because an older crowd still frequented the restaurant, giving us hope that if 80-something year olds could still take time to dress formally, find enough strength to leave canes and walkers tableside to cut a mean foxtrot on the dance floor, then, we too would have this kind of happy ending.

Instead, I called home to say I would be working until much later. Groggy on pain meds, he said to just bring home dessert.

That chocolate mousse sat in the fridge untouched for a week while I waited for his appetite to return. Then I put it in the freezer thinking that we would enjoy laughing about it next Valentine’s Day.

When he passed a month afterward and I moved out a year later, it was still there.

Frozen with a sweetness beyond inedible, I thought love’s labor was lost forever.

It has taken some time, but I don’t feel that way anymore.

Today, I know that our court shall be a little academy / still and contemplative in living art if I keep vigilance to love more generously, speak more gratefully and act more graciously.

I’ll make each day Valentine’s Day.

BY REQUEST

The best audience sits quietly and listens.

They are appreciative.

They know that when you choose to play something, the song has personal significance and will be meaningfully heartfelt.

So they say, “Play whatever moves you, it’s all good.”

I was thinking how good I did have it one night until my gratitude came to an abrupt general pause.

Someone asked for Anaconda, a rap song by Nicki Minaj.

And when I said that I didn’t know how well I could translate it as a piano cover, they asked for five other equally unplayable rap songs in rapid succession.

I was about to get seriously pissed when I realized I had done the very same thing that morning.

In my daily devotion, I rattled off this extensive list of demands: inner-peace, joy, happiness, health, a boyfriend, love, a man who would love me for who I am, love for myself from within myself, to put out love and receive love with whole-hearted joy, ditto the last thing for friends and family, also, health for them too, and for everyone but me mostly not to be surrounded by stupid people, more peace, strength to be surrounded by stupid people if it really does have to happen, serenity and; fortitude for whatever-thy-will-be-done-amen.

If God is a piano player, then I need to be a better audience member.

 

 

 

 

LOUD AND CLEAR

I am distracted.

At two separate tables, video clips on smart phones are being played.

Loudly.

Completely oblivious to the fact that this behavior is so obnoxious to fellow diners, and more particularly, to the pianist who is in the middle of an epic Gershwin medley, I look around to see if anyone else is just as annoyed.

No one is.

They are all texting.

Or posting some twitter-instagram-snapchat-facebook related thing.

#unbelievable

Surrounded by so many ways to share and stay connected, I feel like a little lamb who’s lost in the woods.

In the noise of everyday living, it’s sometimes hard to hear the real melody of my heart. The tune that I am to follow. The lyrics that have been written specifically for my voice.

But if I listen quietly, I know I could always be good to someone who’ll watch over me.