When I was a child, I wanted to learn to play a piano. At Christmas when I was about 5 or 6, I got a teeny little keyboard that spanned less than two octaves and I loved it. It came in a nice silver fabric sleeve and became really special to me. I tried to figure out how to play all the songs I knew on it -- mainly using my right index finger :) -- and eventually even learnt how to read music.
But then I started school and, being a typical child, my attention was soon diverted elsewhere (reading books, all the time, became THE thing for me for quite a long time) and the keyboard started gathering dust. But every now and then, I had a fleeting thought: wouldn't it be great to know how to play a piano?
Clearly, these thoughts were pretty half hearted as I never really pressed my parents enough to help me pursue this dormant passion of mine. Who knows what really happened back then. My memory -- a pretty selective entity and one often tainted with wild imagination, to be honest -- is that I always wanted to learn to play a piano but for one reason or another wasn't allowed to.
My rational mind knows this is nonsense and if I REALLY wanted it at the time, my parents would have supported me. However, what really happened doesn't matter because, justifiably or not, I had been carrying this little chip on my shoulder and it was time to do something about it.
So. Nearly a year ago I decided to finally give this whole piano thing a go.
First, I needed to get the instrument. Inspired by a friend, I sent a request out to my local freecycle group and, lo and behold, no less than three people immediately offered me their pianos!!! I picked what I thought sounded like the best one and booked the piano movers. Two guys turned up the next day, had one look at the staircase up to my first floor flat and said: "Ain't gonna happen." What?!!
And it didn't. They tried, really really tried. Was this a test? Maybe. Did I want it badly enough? Definitely! Even though I had to send this beautiful (and free) piano back to their generous owners, I was not deterred.
It was around that time that I noticed that the local second hand car shop somehow became a piano warehouse. Given that there isn't much going on in my local neighbourhood (apart from countless kebab shops, hairdressers and estate agents), this seemed like a sure sign. I killed two birds with one stone and got myself a piano small enough to make it up to the first floor -- and a great piano teacher.
Fast forward to present. Yesterday I took my grade 2 piano exam (being a bit ambitious I skipped grade 1 -- with hindsight, possibly not the best idea). Me and a whole bunch of 7-year-olds. Being the only adult there made me feel surprisingly nervous and I made a bit of a mess of it so I'm not entirely sure that I passed (fingers crossed!) but I feel good anyway! I make mistakes but I can play a decent tune. Never trying to learn a piano will not be my death bed regret.
As I finished the exam, I received a call from an 80-year-old lady who'd like to pick up her yoga practice again. She'd been chasing me for a couple of weeks, she was not going to be deterred. We're starting next week. And I salute her! It really is never too late to start anything at any point in your life, at any age.
Speaking of yoga, I've lost count of the many people who have said that they'd really like to try it but that they are not flexible enough.
Honestly, if I hear this one more time..... I mean, come on! Flexibility is not the be-all and end-all of yoga. Sure, your flexibility is likely to improve with practice. But it's not the main goal. The main goal is to achieve the optimal conditions for YOU and to FEEL GOOD both in your body and in your mind. A body that's too flexible can actually be weak, whereas a combination of flexibility, strength and stability is more likely to make you feel your best. So knock it off and try! If you then think it's still not for you, fine. But at least you gave it a shot!