Of Pianos and Chainsaws

When I was but a lad, my mother taught me to play piano. She taught me the ins and outs of music and technique. She insisted I practice scales and other finger exercises as often, specifically, and focused as I did the music I would learn and eventually perform. I often practiced with coins on my hands that were not supposed to slide off. She taught me that little things mattered – smooth, precise playing, with as little hand movement as possible, would set me apart from others every single time I performed. She also required that my practice time not ever be missed due to outside interests including school, baseball, dances and even work.

Also when I was young, my father taught me to use a chainsaw. He taught me how to cut trees both down and up. He insisted I learn to use, respect, oil, and clean a chainsaw so it would serve as a tool and extension of my body and not something I should fear. I remember one heavy spring snow when I climbed a tree to remove a large broken branch, I did so without worry of falling or maiming myself. He taught me that little things mattered – careful, concise movements would keep me from being injured or even killed, even when standing on a steep mountain slope or hanging from a snowy tree above this driveway.

I have always considered the ability to transition my thoughts and feelings through my fingers onto a keyboard or musical instrument as “my art.” I have never been one to draw, paint, mold, carve or build anything that provokes gasps of wonder and amazement. I enjoy observing others, especially my family members, create their own art but have never done much to participate. (Although, with practice and desire, one could develop any of these talents. I firmly believe it can be done.)

Yesterday I had the great opportunity to get out of the isolation of “house arrest” and fire up the chainsaw to cut down a tree that died over the winter. After completing the job with my sons, I decided it was finally time to practice a new art, using a stump that remained from a tree we cut last year. I determined to carve the letter N (representing the last name, of course, and not any local university) into the stump. I do not proclaim my artwork as world class, but do announce that creating my first, and possibly last, work of chainsaw art left me with a wondrous sense of accomplishment!

NOTICE – DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! THIS IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OF CHAINSAW MISUSE AND I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU DO NOT ATTEMPT THE SAME. EVER. YOU SHOULD ALSO NEVER BLOW DRY YOUR HAIR WHILE SITTING IN A BATHTUB OR STICK YOUR FINGER INTO AN ELECTRICAL OUTLET!

I am grateful for a mother who taught me the art of music and who insisted I practice that art over and over and over. I am further thankful for a father who taught me to practice the work of cutting trees over and over and over. Who knew I would one day create art as a result of both these lessons?

Thanks to both my parents, yesterday I cut down a tree, carved the first letter of my last name into a stump and later practiced the piano.

I have said this before – Dr. Wayne Dyer said,

“Don’t die with your music still in you.”

As we continue to reevaluate our lives and our priorities through isolation and quarantine and as we watch loved ones and friends fall ill and perhaps even succumb to mortal infirmities, let us not “die” with our music still in us. Take time to develop your art, whatever it may be. Take time to develop a new talent.

Teach your children it is never too late to work on and develop a skill, whether old or new. Have them do it over and over and over.

Encourage your children to explore, learn and not be afraid to fail. (I had to cut the first three inches off my initial attempt at carving the stump yesterday because it was a great, big fail!)

Yes, we are living in crazy, uncertain times. What better time than now to work on self-mastery, talent development and relationship building with our family members?

Don’t die with your music still in you and don’t leave isolation wishing you had done more to become better.

Teach your children the same.

We’ll all be better for it.

Our future world will benefit by what you and your family do today!