Fine tuning my ability to make time

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To me, there is no sentence worse than “I used to play the piano.” It sounds so final, unchangeable. I would like to think that I hate saying it because it isn’t true, but I guess for me, it is. One year ago, I stopped practicing, and since then, I haven’t touched the piano. I used to look forward to coming home from school everyday, leaving my backpack on the floor, walking straight to the piano, and sitting down to play Claire Du Lune by Debussy. I used to be able to sit down at my grandparents’ house and choose a song to play from memory. Now, even when they beg, I can’t remember a single piece to play.

What is my excuse for quitting something that I loved? The classic, “I don’t have time anymore,” of course. It was junior year, when school started getting really tough and time-consuming, and I just couldn’t bring myself to practice every day. I couldn’t find the time. But that is where the cliché comes in: “If you want time, make time.” You must realize by this point that I am not presenting any new or groundbreaking ideas here. But then again, isn’t there something wrong if someone is prioritizing things that are less important to her than her passions?

The answer is obviously yes, but that doesn’t help me figure out why I’m allowing myself to abandon playing the piano, and it certainly doesn’t help me solve the problem of how I can “make the time.”

Here is what I think is causing my problem: activation energy. It is the number one thing that I remember from freshman physics because it seems to apply to my everyday life. To jog your memory, activation energy is the amount of energy needed to get a particular reaction going. Activation energy always seems to be a bit of an annoyance because it is a figurative hurtle that you must overcome; once you have implemented the activation energy, the rest comes relatively easily. From my perspective, it is always more difficult just to open that textbook to read or begin that essay for English, but once I start, the rest seems to flow naturally.

After a physically and mentally taxing day of school, the activation energy hurtle that impedes my piano practicing seems impossibly high. There is no way I can practice with the burdens of homework due the next day bearing down on my shoulders. And forget practicing after homework. By that time, I am brain dead and can hardly walk those ten steps to the couch to watch some TV. Humans are inherently lazy, in my opinion, and that is why we must fool ourselves into implementing the activation energy and getting the reaction going.

Fooling myself will be tricky, so I’ve come up with a game plan of sorts: I will put the remote control to the TV on top of the piano, so that when all I want to do is plop on the couch after homework, I will have to walk into the living room to get the remote control. By that time, it is actually easier to just sit down at the piano and play something. This would allow me to continue my passion without it becoming a burden.

With this in mind, I will abolish the sentence, “I used to play piano” from my vocabulary. I hate to use the past tense when it comes to describing any activity I enjoy, so from now on I will implement my plan and proudly say, “I play piano.”