Although we never quite said: “I do”, my violin and I have had an unspoken understanding that we were together. That it was just the two of us and I had forsaken all other instruments. That I was done with the piano and had well and truly moved on.
That is, of course, aside from my occasional and very brief flirtations playing Moonlight Sonata on Mum’s grand piano when I visit my parents’ place. The piano was a memory, a relict from my past. While it’s nice, the piano has never spoken to me, connected with me or lit my flame the way the violin does.
However, life often has a habit of taking me by the hand and leading me along different and often deeply shaded garden path when I was just minding my own business happily heading somewhere else. Some people would call this “distraction” but as John Lennon sang in “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
While I’m still loyal to my violin, the piano and I are now having something of an affair, a flirtation, a dalliance. Perhaps, even a come back.
Yesterday, while I was at the op shop in Avalon, I found an old vintage copy of Beethoven’s Fur Elise. Suddenly, in the words of Martin Luther King: I had a dream. I was going to master Fur Elise over the holidays.
While I had learned it many, many years ago and am not starting from scratch, this is still a fairly ambitious project and I’m already rather inundated with projects at the moment especially when you consider that I’m currently going through chemo. This should probably be a time of rest and relaxation and certainly not taking on more.
At the same time, it feels good to practice, improve and feel myself starting to succeed. That sense of achievement might even be more important than ever at the moment when I am feeling quite overwhelmed at times and so much is beyond my control. I can sit down at the piano and repeat and repeat and repeat those notes and there’s noticeable improvement. I have no idea whether or not the chemo is working and while I’m doing exercise and eating healthy, I don’t know whether they are helping either. I need something a bit more concrete.
While all these medical things are up in the air at the moment, we all know that practice makes perfect. The more I practice Fur Elise, the better I get. It’s not just a matter of talent. You have to apply yourself. When it comes to the medical world, these types of certainties just don’t exist. My disease is such a mystery, an unknown. The lines of Fur Elise on the other hand are so well-known, reassuring, predictable. I know what’s happening. I understand that certainty and being in control has only ever been an illusion but that illusion fitted like a glove and I was comfortable…at peace.
Fur Elise seems to be pondering some sort of imponderable question as well going over those same phrases over and over again like trying to remember something. Find something that’s been lost. It’s like the waves of the ocean constantly rolling towards the shore in their rhythmic, predictable way so unlike the twists and turns of life.
Even after all these years, I still don’t know who Elise was aside from my piano teacher’s teenaged daughter.
Given our new relationship status, perhaps, it is time I found out.