|Pam Asberry and Jana Oliver|
January and February are always busy months for me professionally. My piano students participate in NFMC Federated Festival mid-February and I am often called upon to judge for other area piano festivals; this year is no exception. Also, I spent a couple of weeks creating a series of Valentine’s Day pieces for my Etsy store; now I am working on a line of chain mail bracelets and earrings as well as a line of stamped metal pendants. Not to mention the housework and laundry and cooking and… well, you get the drift.
I am ready.
I judged for a piano festival last Sunday, and one of the students I heard has Tourette’s Syndrome. His teacher had warned me about his condition ahead of time; I was prepared for anything, including the possibility that he might totally wig out and not be able to complete his performance. Well, what happened was completely the opposite.
This little boy marched into the room, extended his hand to me, and said, “Hi, I’m James, and I have Tourette’s Syndrome.” Then he sat down at the piano and gave the most moving performance I heard all day: impeccably memorized, stylistically accurate and musically sensitive. If I hadn’t known he had Tourette’s Syndrome, I would never have guessed. Of course, I would like to pat myself on the back and attribute it to my ability to make others feel comfortable. But the truth is it was all I could do to keep myself from bursting into tears at his honesty and sensitivity. I gave him a hands-down Superior. He thanked me politely for it afterwards. But I didn’t give him anything he didn’t absolutely earn.
If that little boy, not even ten years old, can wake up every morning, face down an evil monster like Tourette’s Syndrome, and make his way through another day, how can I not muster the fortitude to meet my daily word count goal? Yeah, I’m not a millionaire and life is hard sometimes. But compared to James, I have absolutely NOTHING to complain about.
Now, back to Jana and her message on Saturday. It was powerful. In the end, she said to trust the gift, the story, the characters, YOURSELF. And that’s what I’m learning to do.