I suppose that it was rather unfair of me to tease you the other day, but I really am in a bit of a dilemma about this. It's just something that I am trying. It's rather bold of me in a sense, even though I am not exactly bold about sharing it.
"Why not?" you might ask.
Because it is more than likely that it will be a seemingly failed attempt that I will have to give up on sooner rather than later. In almost all ways of looking at it, it's rather silly of me to begin to take violin lessons in the year before I turn sixty. For one thing, many consider it to be the world's most difficult instrument. For another, I know that I'm not musically gifted – not challenged exactly but by no means gifted. And for yet a third reason (and I probably could go on), my hands and fingers have already stiffening up with arthritis. No, the odds are not with me.
"Why would he even consider attempting this?" you may ask.
Well, I took a year of lessons, actually less than a year I suppose, about forty-five years ago. I stopped because we moved, and life shifted and maybe for other reasons too, for it certainly wasn't cool back then. In the intervening years the fiddle seems to have made a comeback. I see it being played in all sorts of contemporary, cool groups. But it was most uncool then.
But I hung onto the instrument for lo these many years because I had never totally given up on it. In the back of my mind, albeit far back, the notion was always there – that I might try it again at some point in time. However, even though I had this notion, I discarded the instrument when we moved last year. I calculated, rightly or wrongly, that after sitting idle in the attic through cold and heat for so many years, that it would no longer be very viable. There's also the fact that I sat on it once many years ago; it was repaired, but I always doubted the instrument's integrity.
Regardless, the notion to take the instrument up again has been gaining momentum in my thoughts for the past few years as it became likely that we would move to this area or close to it. You see, this is a musical area, and the fiddle is certainly a large part of both its musical heritage and present scene. It seemed as though the opportunity to try again was being presented to me: the opportunity to complete something that has been dangling as a loose thread for so long. You could call it closure, I suppose, for whether I come to enjoy a small measure of success in my endeavours or whether I bomb out in a great conflagration almost immediately, I will have the sense of having completed something that I once began and set aside prematurely.
I have already rented a violin and have picked up a beginners book, and I am squawking and screeching my way through it. Actually, it's better than I thought it would be; I'm not making too many intolerable noises, but I know that there's only so much I can do on my own. So … I've contacted a teacher, and I think (but am not yet sure) that we're set to begin lessons within the next few weeks.
In the interim, I practise on my own, and I experience many self-doubts. I hit two strings; my fingers
sometimes don't find the right notes; and, my aged digits don't exactly glide easily along the strings. Yes, I hold a lot of conversations with myself about whether I should even attempt this — whether I am in my right mind in doing so—or in my more lucid moments, I concede that it seems like ridiculous undertaking.
However, should I proceed no further along this path than I have gone in these meagre first steps, I already begin to feel some of that sense of the closure that I have previously mentioned.
And really, I can hardly fail. Not really. Oh, I may not do well by any real world measurement, and I may decide not to proceed very far along the path, or my teacher may decide for me. But I believe that what they say really is true: "The only failure is in not trying." I'm certainly trying. What else can a person do but try to make the best of what they have? I haven't been given much in the way of talents or gifts, but I strive, and I have become competent at a number of things in my lifetime. While He was Competent may not exactly be a stirring epitaph, I do what I can. What else can I possibly do?
There you have the dirty little secret that I have been hesitant to share. That's my new beginning this September, the month that I consider to be the real New Year.