In Midd-December (get it??) my 97-year-old grandfather, Preston, died peacefully in his sleep. He was a man of few words and constant projects. Always an engineer, he devoted his retired years to transforming old railroad tracks into bike trails, building boats in his garage, riding his recumbent bicycle, and learning to play bridge. Not only did Preston remain active into his aging years, but he did so despite the fact that cataracts had made him legally blind. While Preston had many sustained lifelong interests, what characterized him equally was his constant attraction to new and exciting ventures. He was always looking for the next way to sharpen his mind or skills.
When I was seven years old a few of my friends began taking piano lessons. I felt anxious that I had missed the boat and my friends would all go off on musical adventures without me, and that I would never ever be able to play the piano if I didn’t begin NOW. Unfortunately this attitude was not new for me and my parents had the wisdom to say “no” to many things I had fleeting interest in like horseback riding, harmonica lessons ( mostly because they don’t really exist), tap dancing, etc. But I was positive piano was different and that is was REALLY important that I start. But my parents held a firm “no” as I was already quite busy (and prone to melt-downs when starved for downtime).
Anyways, it was around that time Preston began taking piano lessons, meeting weekly with his teacher and tapping out progressively more complicated melodies on the keyboard in my grandparents’ living room. I found this image of an old man struggling with the same tunes my friends were learning to be incredibly calming. If Preston could start playing piano in his eighties, then I had plenty of time.
I remember this moment whenever I feel like I’m too old to start something new. This J-term it was cross-country skiing. My friends Becky, Gregg, and I all decided to take lessons together. The people at Rikert are wonderful, patient, and excited to share their love of the sport. Tiring and fun with beautiful scenery, learning to ski has been a great thing to do this month, even if my instructors have been younger than me.
Here’s a picture of me and my fellow nordic newbies Becky and Gregg in the bright, bright sun!