There are two difficult things about practicing, which is to say that there are two difficult things about problem-solving.

The first one is when you don’t know how to address the issue in front of you.

The second is when you do, but for whatever reason — lack of focus, laziness, the desire to take shortcuts — you do something else instead.

Often, with the piano, the “something else” is “playing it over again, exactly the same way you just played it, and hoping that it will get better without your having had to try to make it better.”

Without your having had to put in any work, as it were.

Except playing something over again feels like work, it is worklike — and, because guessing takes more effort than knowing, actually draws something out of you.

You’re trading your energy without getting the results you want.

And, often, without asking yourself whether it’s a fair trade.

Knowing what to do, knowing the actions and choices that will lead you in the direction you want to go and then choosing and taking them, is harder.

First because you have to know what those actions and choices are, which is a problem-solving issue in itself.

Then because you have to take them. As they stand — that is, as they have been proved to work — without trying to shortcut or overcorrect (which is in itself a shortcut, since you’re trying to get more result than the time/action/choice allows).

It requires a level of awareness that is difficult to sustain, unless you are simultaneously doing the work of sustaining that awareness in the rest of your life. If you make choices that you know will lead to a night of indigestion or poor sleep, for example — or if you fall out of sync or sorts with someone you love because you’re not paying attention to what the two of you are creating together — it will make the next day’s work that much harder.

It also requires enough awareness to know when it’s time to try something new. To go back to the question “do I really know how to address the issue in front of me?” and see if you come up with a different answer.

You know that none of this is just about the piano, of course.

It could very well be about personal finance.

It could — and absolutely is — about love. Not to say that “love is problem-solving,” because I don’t believe that shows up anywhere in First Corinthians, except no, wait, it does, “love rejoices with the truth,” and if there’s one thing about being aware and present with someone you love, it’s that it gets you as close as possible to the truth of things.

L will like that part, when I read it to him.

I’m going to write about overcorrecting on Tuesday, since that seems to be the issue that is most likely to get in the way of my addressing other issues (at least right now).

Until then, I’m going to leave you with this — which is to say that I am going to leave me with it, like a meditation that I will carry with me when I do my yoga and have breakfast with L and sit down at the piano and then sit back down at my desk.

Stay aware, my love.

You know what has been proved to work and what has been proved not to work.

You also know that there’s always the possibility of proving something new — to either work or not work — which means today could be interesting.

Or, as I will tell L when I read this to him, “it already is.” ❤️

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