Practice

I wasn’t going to post today, but this is a funny series of coincidences, kind of how my life works. 

Yesterday I posted that taking my own advice has always been helpful to me.  The word, “practice”, has been coming up a lot.

Lol. I’ve been learning about alchemy, still know nothing, from Damien Echol’s class on High Angel Magick from Sounds True. So far, he’s taught me the basic rituals I learned from my ex-mystery school, who naturally believe They are the only ones who can teach these secrets, and a new one that I hadn’t practiced before, the “Middle Pillar Exercise”. I’ve been half-heartedly doing it -he recommends twice a day. Argh, that’s too much!

Last week, Damien was mentioning about the needs for regular practice, to keep the pot simmering, so as to turn lead, the state of not-being and in density, into ‘gold’. This regular attention to a thing, being a major requirement of alchemy; otherwise you get to start over, try again.

Who knows if they did or didn’t turn some substance into actual gold. Alchemy describes the necessary processes that occur during any transformation. At some point there’s the sensation of heat and pressure, as the snake sheds her skin.

My problem, I can’t decide on what goal to seek (I guess, until now), but am lead by curiosity. So wow, to have to practice something- still must be driven by a dream, to be really successful.

I keep trying to play the piano. Maybe in a past life I was good. Who knows, I Know I first saw one when I was around three or four years old. From that moment on, once I saw a piano in a room, I’d know right where to go when it got crazy. So, any old piano was good enough for me- as long as it had keys. Yes, if the tuning was really awful, I’d just play “Heart and Soul” and leave. I once played at the Harvard Club…that was nice.

That first piano was at Bapoo’s, my father’s father, AKA my grandfather’s house. He had a huge stone mansion (it seemed to me at the time, like I said, I was young) in Rockport, by the ocean. The piano was located in the basement, wide open to the yard., There were two large rosa rugosa stands right at the opening that smelled like apricots.

The piano, an upright, sat right there out in the open; they didn’t tune it much, if at all, it sounded pretty terrible, if you want to know the truth. At our family picnics, I’d sneak away to play. Seemed unusual for the room to smell musty, as it was by the sea and with those roses, but I’d always notice that at the same time. Didn’t matter, I wasn’t there long, and I’d work out a few songs I’d heard or learned. I felt really lucky. Even then. I know, I should have wanted it to be a little different, or so said my sister.

Piano is my secret obsession (until now), but I suck anyway, especially when I’m watched[1].

When I turned 50, I bought a Steinway …’because I could’. But I’ve never really practiced well, or at least in fits and starts. Most pieces take at least an hour of practice every day to master, especially if they’re long.

It was a difficult decision to let my electric piano go, but after I moved to my new little house, I knew that I wasn’t going anywhere with it, so I donated it to SOTA, our public school for talented art and music students last August. I got lucky meeting a jazz piano musician Kareem, playing in the background at our local ballet gala[2], in February, right before lockdown.

In the end, Kareem started teaching me jazz at first to offset my donation. He’s a grooving kind of guy (my opposite for sure in temperament). We’ve been jamming and doing a little bit of improv, these last few months.  He has a family to feed- that’s my excuse anyway for having a social relationship during the pandemic! And I have no one, besides me, at risk.

I told him straight up what has been happening, including ‘love demon’, so not to expect too much of me, even though he might assume I was capable of much more… I’d likely be a little giddy, if you know what I mean. (I literally could not function otherwise). He understood, and said ‘that’s cool’.

I just learned, or am learning a new song, “Summertime”. I specifically said “no love songs”… there were maybe 3 songs to choose from from 50), and I have been practicing pretty well these days. At least a little.

During ballet this morning, Lili Wang was playing piano for us (another treat from the pandemic- to have a live pianist during ballet class) and she had a big sign behind her that said, “Practice” and #100. She’s doing a 100 day piano practice challenge. Cool, I’ve done a couple of yoga challenges, but I then I get resistant, and quit.

I chatted to her in a text, that I’d do her challenge too – practicing my jazz that is. So here I am, the word practice, practice, practice, ringing in my ears!

Yes, I called him – the love demon human, again- though for the first time, there wasn’t a need. I’m not being bothered by him at all.

Well, he did “puff” into my face this morning- also a first time- (!) being puffed at, that is. And no, I didn’t really like it, as I’m sure Violet’s not thrilled when I do it to her- the shy half of my cat duo. Hmmm.

More Golden Rule stuff, I gather.

May life give you blessings.


[1]I, and my father, spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on classical piano lessons ever since I was ten. My current teacher, Dr. Mimi, is the best one in the county. Last year one of her students went to Juliard! Wow for her! That’s an achievement!. I don’t practice enough to make it worthwhile, technically. Anyway, we have recitals, and I usually fumble from nervousness. 

[2]Ok, it wasn’t really a gala like you see in the pictures at the New York Times social section. It was our ballet auction with hors d’oevres and wine. We all dressed up (sure there were a few cowboys) and it was fun- even though we held it at the library!

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