I tried to do it last year, but couldn't manage it. The need for groceries took my "mad money", leaving me shrugging my shoulders saying "Oh well, guess it wasn't meant to be."
But it kept niggling me. I tried to brush it off, but I couldn't. I don't even know why, really, it is just one of those things.
Then this year came around, a year that was quite stressful, and kind of sucked a lot of soul out of me for a variety of reasons I won't get into...none of which, thankfully, have anything to do with my beloved ones.
The last straw came when I lost choir, that one thing just for me that brought me incredible joy each week, and filled me up. It was also one of the few adult things away from the kids I counted on regularly to keep me from becoming a babbling adolescent-esque fool. Homeschooling, and doing it with real commitment, is not just throwing the kids in front of a computer all day while I eat bon bons and watch Oprah re-runs. It really means a 10-12 hour a day...then going...well...nowhere. Back to the laundry room, maybe, but you don't get to "go home" from work. I love it in a million ways, but I am being truthful when I say there are moments when simply not getting out every day or being around adults more can be a little hard from time to time. Of course, the flip side is that I get to be cozy at home every day, and I am around my favorite people in the whole world, so there are definitely pros and cons :-)
So, I decided I needed something to rejuvenate me a teensy weensy bit. I needed something just for me, something I might get a little lost in when I needed to. So, I did it. I actually did it today.
I am giving a trial run at learning the harp!! After much conversation and research, I found a company that will rent one long distance, for a period of four months, before a commitment is made to purchase it. So, for a $50 a month rental fee, I am going to try something totally new and different!
Here she is, isn't she beautiful???:
I keep trying to tell myself this is not stupid. I don't have the luxury of affording lessons, I haven't played any instrument since high school, I don't know keys or chords, and I don't read bass clef. But ever since the day 2+ years ago when I sat down at a dear friend's harp back in Virginia, I have yearned for one to play, even if I never learn to play right and just strum to make myself happy. Sitting at her harp, resting it against my shoulder and feeling every sound in a way that many instruments don't let you feel it, there was something mystical and sacred about it for me. Maybe that is how Matthew feels about Legos when he gets lost in creating, or Olesya when she just can't wait to comb through magazines and cookbooks looking for new things to try.
I bought a highly recommended "Teach Yourself the Harp" book and DVD on Amazon, signed the contract today, and will give it a try. Renting it is safe, because if I find I am the total loser I suspect I might be, and don't force myself to practice, I can always return it. I really have no idea if I can learn this without an instructor, but several folks on various harp forums have done so, at least well enough to satisfy their desire to play a little. I am under no impression that I will actually ever be good at it. I don't care about performing, nor do I imagine myself sitting at a $10,000 floor harp some day. I am basically very uncoordinated, and I am pretty sure this will be something incredibly hard for me to do, especially without lessons.
That's OK. What is it that I have been saying to the kids for years? Do the hard thing? That, and you don't have to be good at it to enjoy it? Well, I guess it is time to put up or shut up. I want to try, and I think it will be great for the kids to see me attempting something that is very, very hard...just as each of them has done so admirably.
But mainly, I just want to sit in a quiet room and run my fingers across the strings over and over again. That alone is beautiful, even if I never manage to put notes together in a way that follows anything written on a page. Sometimes, we need to chase after beauty, even if we will never quite catch it.
I am trying not to feel guilty. I had a little money stashed to cover the rental fee, money I saved by effectively robbing Peter of a little more than it ended up costing to pay Paul. Still, it is money that could have been spent elsewhere, and I know that. I have played mind games, justifying it to myself for the past week. I was going to rent a super cheap one, because A) I didn't want to rent a much nicer harp, find that I love it, and am spoiled by it but can't afford to keep it, and B) I don't need an expensive toy. However, a couple of my men folk convinced me otherwise. Kenny really got deep into conversation about the whole idea, urging me to do it as he weighed out the pros and cons of better harps versus lower level models. Dominick convinced me when he sort of laughed at the name of the super cheap model, called a "Harpsicle".
Ultimately, I realized that beginners at anything often go with lower quality tools for whatever they are trying to learn, and often get turned off of something because it is frustrating to work with inferior products. We've all done it, saved a few bucks on something thinking it wasn't really worth wasting additional money on it, so we quit when, if we had the right tools, we would find it enjoyable. If there is any chance at all that I might actually be able to learn this, then I don't want to ruin it because I bought a harp with no levers, or not enough octave span, and I throw my hands up in the air and give up. Well, I admit I might end up doing that anyway, but at least it will be due to my recognition of my own lack of talent, not due to a poor quality instrument. So we are renting a decent little entry level harp, not a toy, but not a Grand Dame of harps. If I like it and stick with it, I am not yet sure what I'll do. I am not going to think beyond just enjoying it when it arrives. I really hope I won't be blogging four months from now saying,"Eh, I give up!". But then, even if that does happen, at least I will have tried. You have to try a lot of things to find the ones that really speak to you. And who says you need to be "good"?
A little music is needed in everyone's life. I've missed the peace it brought me, so I am reaching out for a little.
While I wait in great anticipation, my only dilemma is...what do I name her??