It was late spring when I walked up on the stage to perform the piano piece I had so eagerly been waiting to play. I had spent countless days memorizing and mastering this piece so I could finally redeem myself from the disappointment of failing to place at the local music contest just a few months before. The thought of seeing everyone look at me as if I were a lost cause consumed my thoughts. The crowd fell silent as I sat down in front of the piano and placed my fingers gently on the keys. I took a deep breath and began to play the slow melody. About half way through the song, I heard a wrong note and abruptly stopped. I picked the piece up just a few lines before I had stumbled thinking to myself that my muscle memory had just merely flinched, and it was a minor mistake. Once again, my fingers could not remember the correct notes. For a moment, I stared out into the audience which looked much larger than it did before. I could barely hear the murmurs of the crowd over the pounding of my own heart.
After what seemed like hours, I played the last few lines that I could remember and exited the stage. Tears had already started to form before I had even finished. People have always told me to be the strongest in the times when I felt weakest, but how could I have forgotten part of the piece that I had practiced endlessly?
In the following months, I focused on the upcoming fall recital. This time, I did not practice every free minute I had. Instead, I thought about why I had failed at the past two events and brought myself back to the basics. This was when I began to question why I even played the piano. It took time to realize that I did not play for the joy of listening to music, but rather for the joy of winning. I had grown so competitive that when I failed to place in the biggest competition of the year, I fell so hard that I was unable to pick myself up. There was more to music than winning, gold medals, or competition; there was passion and a jar of...
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