All through my life, certain things were kind of handed to me. I was a straight-A student without hardly trying. I rarely studied for tests, I skipped as many homework assignments as possible, I passed notes in class – hell, I even slept in class. And for whatever reason, my teacher’s loved me. I tested well, so I never had a problem getting A’s on my exams. I was a swimmer, so most of my teachers didn’t even care that I would put my head down and close my eyes. On one occasion my freshman year, Mr. Waldman woke me out of my sleep, asked me to pass a handout to Dustin behind me, and then told me, “okay, go back to sleep.” And I did. I put my head right back down on my desk and immediately began breathing the soft and slow breath of a heavy slumber.
Even though I didn’t always finish a book we were reading in English class, I participated in class discussions. I didn’t even watch the movies to get an idea of what I had missed. I just listened to what other people were saying and went off of that. And every single one of my teachers were impressed with the input I had to give. I never made a fool of myself, although sometimes I worried that I was stretching too far out of my reach.
Music was always easy for me, too. As early as elementary school, my music teachers and even my peers took notice of my special abilities. One day we were all given the opportunity to sing either by ourselves or with a partner in front of the class. My friend Helen and I decided we would sing together. There were three verses in the song, so she would sing first, I would sing second, and then we’d sing the third verse together. When it was time for us to sing together, Helen stopped and let me continue on alone. With a sly smile on her face, she watched me sing by myself as I turned to her puzzled. We were in fourth grade.
In fifth grade, it was time to choose our musical instruments. After hearing a John Catching’s CD recording of hymns, I had fallen in love with the cello, so that was the instrument I chose. I learned so quickly that my orchestra teacher gave me an extra packet of music to practice at home, and told me that at the orchestra concert, I could choose one of those songs to play as a solo. In sixth grade, I had advanced so far beyond my fellow classmates that she had me play in the seventh grade orchestra.
All of this came so easily to me. I practiced, but little more than the required 60 minutes per week. When I got to high school, it was much of the same. I received a lot of attention and praise from my teachers with little effort on my part. I had a natural talent that those around me could not ignore. Choir was the same way. Anytime there were solo auditions, I got a part. My senior year of high school, I sang an entire song, Pie Jesu from Faure’s Requiem, with the orchestra as my accompaniment. All of this with minimal practicing. It was so easy back then. Others may not have been able to ignore my natural talent, but I certainly could. Being aware of it was the same as ignoring it. I wasted it by going through college on the same bare minimum idea. I ended up hitting a plateau that I couldn’t overcome. I didn’t improve. I didn’t get worse, but I sure as hell did not get better.
So that was my story. That was the reason I would never be a Master of Music student at Julliard, UofM or even Wayne State. Not because I wasn’t good enough, but because I wasn’t motivated enough. I wasn’t serious enough. I coasted through life without ever trying to improve or do something better with myself. Christopher moved on and became incredibly successful, my mother’s writing took off along with her massage business, the people around me moved on and up, and I stayed right where I was. I never took a chance on anything, and I remained right on the edge of “good enough.”