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The piano recital

By Mike Ruffin The Women’s Clubhouse in Barnesville is undergoing renovation. This is a good thing. But hearing about it brought up a bad memory for me. It was the early 1970s. I had been taking piano lessons for a couple of years. Ted Lashley was my teacher. He was a fine pianist and an excellent teacher, even though he was young’”he wasn’t out of high school yet. Ted was also a magician. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to work any magic on my piano-playing, mainly because of my practice technique, which can best be described as ‘not doing it.’ So you can imagine my excitement when Ted informed me and his other students that we were going to have a recital. You can also imagine how my excitement grew when he said that we had to memorize our songs. Memorization requires practice, which I’ve already admitted wasn’t my strong point. But Ted went right ahead and assigned two songs that I was to learn, memorize, and perform. In public. In front of people. At the Women’s Clubhouse. I don’t remember how much time passed between the scheduling of the recital and the event. I do remember that it wasn’t nearly long enough. I used some of that time trying to convince my parents that, for reasons I couldn’t articulate, my being compelled to participate in the recital constituted a great injustice. I used more of that time listening to my parents delivering eloquent speeches on personal responsibility that boiled done to, ‘You have to do it and you’re going to do it.’ I used most of the time doing anything besides practicing the piano. I don’t know what I thought was going to happen. Maybe I thought my parents would come around to my way of thinking (which experience should have taught me had less than a zero percent chance of happening). Maybe I thought the Lord would have mercy and strike me with pestilence that would require my being quarantined (the Lord didn’t). I think that may have been the first of many times that I prayed, ‘God, if you’re going to send Jesus back anytime soon, now would be a good time’ (Jesus stayed at the Father’s right hand). I’ve already told you that this is a bad memory, so you know the story doesn’t have a happy ending. To put it bluntly, I bombed. I bombed big time. I bombed so badly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the crew renovating the Women’s Clubhouse found the crater. To this day I don’t understand how I deluded myself into thinking that somehow the situation confronting me would just magically go away if I buried my head in the sand and ignored the impending crisis. But I did delude myself. I did ignore the impending crisis. It did not go away. Fortunately, the only price I paid was embarrassment. I did learn some valuable lessons from that humiliating experience. First, trying to deal with an impending crisis by hoping it will somehow just go away isn’t helpful and can be harmful. Second, the first and most vital step in dealing with reality is to acknowledge it. Third, once you acknowledge reality, you should then develop a plan to deal with it. This of course leads me to make some related observations about our political leaders. I appreciate the ones who recognize the reality of the genuine problems we face, who commit to trying to do something about them, and who work to implement possible solutions. I don’t appreciate those who ignore reality, who don’t try to address it, or who obstruct progress on possible solutions. May they all learn and apply the lessons of the piano recital.

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