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I always thought Peter Pan was mad. While he and his fellow Neverlanders were enjoying their eternal childhood, I was desperately awaiting my “grown-up” days. I just wanted to rush through life; I wanted to close my eyes and wake up a responsible, respected adult.
I have my piano teacher to thank for stopping my headlong rush through life. He had spent the summer in Israel and had been unable to teach me; upon his return, he was astounded by the amount of improvement I showed and commented, “You should be a junior so I can have one extra year with you. By then, you’ll be ready to go pro.” Then he sighed and added, “Well, it’s a year; you can do a lot in a year if you set your mind to it.” As I pondered his words, it struck me that he had mourned the shortness of my last year with him. A year, which to me, had always appeared endless, suddenly seemed as if it could vanish in a blink of an eye.
As I drove home afterward, my mother said, “Remember that year when your old piano teacher never wanted to teach you? We should have switched teachers then.” I thought about it a moment, then replied, “No, she only didn’t have the heart to teach me because I didn’t have the heart to learn.” I had been about ten or eleven that year, and had been in such a hurry to reach the future that I had half-ignored the present. I didn’t know what I know now: the past and present prepare us for the future. Although I was never a slacker and always did my work well, I could have done everything better. If I had worked harder, one year would have been sufficient for me to “go pro.” If I had focused on enjoying life as it was, I would now have many sweet memories to rival the unhappy ones. But I had passed my days waiting for the future, enduring the present, and escaping from the world through my dreams.
But enough of this. Thinking of past mistakes is a waste of time if one does not learn from them. After all, it is impossible to change the past, so why not change the future instead? Instead of running futilely from the present, I will grasp the wisdom in the old cliché, “Dream like you’ll live forever, live like you’ll die today,” and apply it to the present and future. As my teacher said, I can do a lot in a year. So for now, I will work hard and push myself, all the while remembering to enjoy the beauty of life, so that in the future, I will have all the necessary skills to live my life well, and I will look back and smile at my multitude of happy memories, like perfect pearls on a string, mine to cherish and hold close forever.
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