This isn’t supposed to be easy; plus, trying to be mediocre

My mind chirped one day while practicing violin.

The piece wasn’t that challenging, really. My mind was chirping (actually, it was more like a very calm, measured tone…I just like the idea of a mind chirping) about how being a violinist isn’t easy. Again, not in a technical sense, not in a marketing or business sense, but in the sense that it just isn’t easy to practice consistently and intelligently. At least, not for me. Never has been, potentially never will be. It’s bizarre to me that this lifelong endeavor of violinism has never come that “naturally” to me. I don’t want to practice. Almost never do I sincerely feel inspired to practice. I would rather just play with my friends without all the time at home, surrounded by scale books and metronomes. I would rather just lilt through some Celtic tunes for about 10 minutes then go for a hike. Or spontaneously engage in penny whistle duets with Ian in the kitchen while Dani is trying to put Eowyn to sleep.

Written out as such, I suppose, this doesn’t seem like such a big deal. So what, I don’t want to practice? I play with the symphony and love it. I was in a highly successful world-renowned almost-got-a-Grammy-nomination-no-not-a-Grammy-but-a-nomination folk band called Patchy Sanders. I’ve been to Germany and Greece with my violin. I’ve competed and won competitions. I studied privately with excellent teachers for 15 years and was awarded with university honors and scholarships. Isn’t that enough?

I should still love playing scales to be a real violinist, my mind helpfully reminds me.

But that day when I had randomly sat down to practice, almost by accident did I sit to work through some etudes, that an inner voice intoned that it didn’t have to be easy to be real, to be meaningful. Even if it isn’t easy, practice is still essential. Even if I don’t practice, I’m still a violinist.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to be accomplished at everything. School, sports, baking, cooking, organizing, eating, yoga, music of all shades, art, knitting, biking, running, camping, hiking, work, clothes, attractive hair styles, musculature, clear skin, a good friend, a good girlfriend, “one of the boys”, sprouting and soaking my grains, etc. And I’m pretty good at almost everything I attempt. But why? Why do I have to be so good at everything? Yuck, that idea seems.

So I’m intentionally practicing being mediocre at several things. Well, two is all I can think of right now.

  1. My room has been messy (“fashionably messy”, I’m calling it, a similar idea to the more widely-known “fashionably late” concept) for about a week and I don’t do anything about it. I just step over things and undress into a pile and sleep in a little avenue near the wall because the rest of my bed is taken up by books. I leave bowls and stuff in there.
  2. I also consider myself a really poor dresser. I don’t really make that much disposable income for new clothes. Everything I’m wearing right now was given to me for zero dollars. My shirt features a mediocre hem job by yours truly. Sometimes I get a good outfit idea and I look in the mirror later and am baffled once more. But I’m learning to be happy anyway amidst my bafflement.

This post also isn’t very good, a bit rambling and, in my opinion, boring, without a lot of originality or deep spiritual insight. I’m going to publish it anyway.


  1. Wilbs,

    You wrote about how I feel all the time. I never feel like a cellist, and I don’t have the list of musical accomplishments you have. But I still love it, so I guess that counts for something. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You are most DEFINITELY a violinist. Always and forever 🙂

    My new goal is to just be less sloppy at cello. And be a little better than I was the day before. We’re playing Scheherazade for our next orch performance, it feels like an etude in itself for cello but also IT IS SO COOL 🙂

    Hope you’re well 🙂

    Sent from my iPhone


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