Friday, June 17, 2011

Thoughts on Becoming Chronologically Challenged

I was blessed with an incredible amount of natural energy. I've been accused of emulating Wonder Woman because I could accomplish so much due to numerous to-do lists and that natural energy. Now that I've passed that magical 70 mark, someone has waved a magic wand and changed everything! There are days I'm absolutely certain someone has poked a hole in my big toe and in some mysterious way, drained all of that energy.

The mind is a terrible thing to lose, and something is happening to mine. Did someone cast a spell on me to make me forget what I knew just yesterday? Why? I'm harmless. I have no power to wield anywhere that would require a memory loss to prevent national secrets from becoming known.

And what happened to my hands? Once my fingers were strong - sometimes (not often) even graceful. Now they are being attacked by an insidious monster called arthritis and are becoming grotesquely misshapen. They are not totally there yet, but have begun that transformation into something unrecognizable on the ends of my arms.

I bring this up because these last two weeks, I've recognized my mortality in an unpleasant way. We have a choir director who believes in miracles. She chooses pieces for our little ward choir to sing that the Tabernacle Choir made sound absolutely glorious. All 300 plus voices! And she expects similar results from the dozen and a half - sometimes a few more - adventurous souls who take up her challenges.

This time it's an incredible piece with a four-hand accompaniment. You have to understand, I'm a Relief Society pianist who had to learn to play the organ many years ago because there wasn't anyone else to do it in our tiny ward. I play the hymns. I practice a lot to be able to play the pedals. You know the more you practice, the better you get, right? Yes --- until last year. Then my eye-hand-foot coordination began diminishing and it took a lot more practice to coordinate those three items.

Back to the choir and the four-hand accompaniment. There are three of us in our ward who play - the other two are much better than I am, but one just had a baby and moved into a new home. That left me as the other two hands. Now the piece is really not THAT difficult. But the tempo is! I choose the easiest part - the lower hands - so I have chords: LOTS OF CHORDS! CHORDS THAT MUST BE PLAYED VERY FAST!

So I practice, and I play it again, and again, and again. I've gone to the church to play it on the piano we will be using (for those of you who play, you KNOW how different pianos are!) The other two hands and mine got together to practice (after I had already spend many hours on this piece plus one hour just before I went to her house.) Do you know what happened? My mind took a mini-vacation and my hands couldn't find all the right notes without it.

It was just like being in the Senior MTC again learning Armenian. At the end of the day's lessons, I'd have those words and phrases down cold - until the next morning when it was time to review what we'd learned the day before. What words? They must be in the recesses of my mind somewhere, but nowhere retrievable at that moment when I needed them.

These are the tricks that some diabolical entity plays on you as the years accumulate. I'm not Wonder Woman anymore. I'm totally human. And totally dependent on Heavenly Help to cover all my deficiencies. Definitely makes a person humble.And that's a good thing in the long run.


Jennie said...

Lynn, I've become a firm believer in Dr. Seuss's theory, "Old Age Aint for Sissies."

Lynn Gardner said...

That is SO true, Jennie! :)

Stephanie Black said...

My parents discovered some of the older age difficulties when trying to learn Portuguese for their mission. They studied and studied and tried and tried, but even after six months in Portugal, they just can't speak it--the young missionaries fresh out of the MTC speak better. It was humbling and difficult to acknowledge that they just simply aren't going to become fluent no matter how much they wanted to.

You're definitely still Wonder Woman, Lynn!

Gale Sears said...

I was laughing with you, trust me. At one time in my life I was strong and my memory was sharp. Now? My body is full of owies and my mind wanders. LOL.