June 26, 2011
I have told this story to a couple adult students before, and now I want to share it with you all here:
I did not really know how to ride a bike until early this year.
For me in the past, it was quite shameful to admit this fact. I thought, “everyone knows how to bike, even a child, but I can’t, because I have never learnt to.” Although it was not my fault that I was never taught to ride a bicycle when I was young, I felt it was. And after all, it was not a useful thing to learn anyway, so it was okay not to know how to bike. But last year, I thought, why not learn it? Then I decided to learn how to ride a bike.
I asked my friend to teach me how. He said, you just had to try and fail, get the balance and feel of it, and eventually you could get it. What? That’s it? Okay then, let’s try it out.
I felt embarrassed to learn how to ride a bike in a public area, so my friend found a more secluded place for me to learn and try (it’s still a public area only with less dwellers). We rented a bike there and I started to cycle. Of course it was still quite embarrassing to try to cycle in front of others (you know the feeling when you just kept thinking that someone would be watching over you, even the fact was no one cared what and how you were doing?), and for me it was hard to keep the balance on the bike, so one of my feet was up on the pedal for one second and then quickly down on the ground for another, and I could not even move forward each time more than a few inches. And if there were people cycling on the same path, I would be very frightened to avoid crashing into them – indeed I felt fine if I fell, but I did not want to hurt the innocent people out there!
The first few times of my trying to learn cycling were absolute disaster and mess, and every time after each biking “lesson” I felt very frustrated. But every time I told myself if I ever wanted to know how to cycle I had to go again to try and bike it out, it was only a matter of trial and error, that I had to fail until I succeeded. So no matter how embarrassing and frustrating I felt after each lesson, I urged myself to go try it again, again and again (although I really rather not go!). I tried to concentrate on the fact that “I WANT TO KNOW HOW TO BIKE”. Period. Other things -embarrassment, frustration, failure – did not matter. And who cared who was watching me to fail? I just needed to focus on what I wanted to achieve, that’s all.
After a few more times of cycling lessons I started to get a better grip of the biking skill. I could keep a better balance on the bike and could go for a longer ride with my feet on both pedals. Then I gained more confidence and focused even more on sharpening my cycling skills. Even when I saw others go faster and smoother than me, I did not care. I just let them pass me, because what I wanted was to bike better than myself, not others. I knew I was improving, and that was all that mattered.
The real challenge was biking in my last trip in Taiwan, where I biked on quite a long journey (a few hours back and forth). There were slopes and stairs on a cycle path for both ways and many fellow cyclists biking on the same narrow path, and I even fell once (because of stopping too suddenly at a fast speed). During the ride I just focused on my own cycling, how to face and tackle each problem calmly without being emotional about it. It was a very challenging ride for me, but I was very happy to meet all those new challenges and overcome them one by one. It was a satisfying ride all in all.
So what does my cycling experience have to do with playing the piano?
The moral here is, sometimes we take playing the piano for granted. It is not an absolute thing for everyone to be able to play the piano. If you have never learnt it when you were young, fine, go start learning it now! It is not your fault that you have never done it before, and it is never too late to start right here right now. The same goes when you did not spend more time learning to play it better or more correctly. You can start improving it NOW. You do not have to compare with others’ progress, because everyone starts at different time of her/his life and everyone’s progress is different. Find a knowledgable and encouraging teacher to help you. Listen to her/his instruction. Try and fail and you will succeed. If you are afraid of making mistakes and have no patience to learn, then you will never improve. If you stop before the challenges, you will never see what is ahead. If you have tried it 999 times and stop, you will never know if it is the 1000th time that you will succeed. So instead, whenever you face some difficulties, just deal with it and tackle it. Be courageous to take up the challenges, go ahead to make some mistakes and learn from them, because no one can ever progress without making any mistakes.
Faith + Time + Patience + Listening (To Teacher) + Effort + Positive Thinking + Trial & Error (Making Mistakes) = Success!
My Ride in Taiwan: Beautiful Scenery Ahead When One Lets Go and Enjoys the Ride!