When I was five I told my parents that I wanted to play the harp.
They looked at each other and then at me and said, “Play the piano first.”
So I did. My piano teacher was named Ms. Kitty and she was a strict, Christian lady who made me count out loud every time I played. To this day, I still count to myself when I practice. To this day, Ms. Kitty still sends me letters asking me if I’m playing the piano.
When I was nine, I told my parents, “I play the piano. Now I want to play the harp.”
By some small miracle, a harp teacher was offering discounted group lessons after school in the music room. So they signed me up.
On the first day, as I walked into that room ready to proudly start playing the harp, there were kids who had already been playing the harp for one year. While I fumbled around trying to figure out which string was what note, they breezed through melodies, plucked out tunes, performed fancy glissandos.
I felt that I had missed the boat.
Why hadn’t my parents let me play the harp when I was seven? I thought. I would have been playing for almost three years by now and I would have been so good, I would probably be able to play in youth orchestra.
It was going to take me forever to catch up.
This was how I felt at age 10.
And this is also how so many of us feel at age 20, 30, 40, even 60. We didn’t start an instrument, our careers, a language at some magical age, 10? 17? 25? and our brain went into lockdown and whatever talents we managed to eck out by sheer luck and childhood fancy are the ones that we are destined with forever. If we haven’t learned music, mastered a language, become a writer, we never will.
Thus the people who sigh, “I wish had learned the piano when I was young. It would be such a great talent to have.”
And the others that pine, “If only they had offered Spanish in school when I was ten. I would be bilingual.”
And me who shouts, “Shut up and starting practicing!” Because piano playing and language speaking might be easier at younger ages, but they can come greatly at any age if you decide to sit down, practice, and persist.
If you start playing the harp diligently each day when you’re forty, by the time you’re sixty you will have twenty years of harp playing under your belt. You’ll probably be able to play in the symphony, all before you’ve reached the ripe old retirement age of 65.
Speaking of jobs, if you completely switched careers at age 40, you have 25 years to pursue and perfect your new job until retirement. And if you start working at 25 (the average time we all start), and consider that it takes 15 years to become a jedi master at whatever you do, you’ll have enough room to perfect three different careers in your lifetime.
I challenge you to stop the job you hate, and find the one you love right now.
I challenge you to listen to that song that you love and learn how to play it.
Because we’re never too old to start doing the things that we love.