Tonight, a long-held dream of mine came true. It was nothing earth-shattering, just something I had dreamed about since 1997. Tonight, I played a note on a MIDI keyboard and saw it appear on a music staff on my computer screen. Then I listened as the computer played back the pitches I had just played. Then I listened as the computer sent those pitches back into the keyboard and the keyboard played them back to me in the voice selected on its control panel. This all might seem simple or boring to you, but it is seriously cool to me. And yet, it took far longer to achieve than it should have.
Sometimes, failure to achieve a dream is due to something completely out of our control. Something happens that has nothing to do with us and suddenly the thing we wanted to accomplish is no longer possible. Other times, life delays the completion of a project and we have to pick up the (maybe literal) pieces from where we left off and figure out how to bring everything together again. Some dreams might be too big to chase right now and we have to lay low for a while, work on what we can, and gather the resources over time to make them eventually come true. And sometimes, things just don't go our way - maybe it hasn't been our day, our week, our month, or even our year - but we can still find wins and keep moving on our dreams. Sadly, none of these are the true reason it took me so long to achieve this particular dream.
I've had the MIDI/USB cable I needed for months; I've had the keyboard, computer, and software for years. I even had a successful attempt at using MIDI to communicate between two instruments earlier this year. So what kept me from this dream for so long? In a word: fear.
Two types of fear were the key players in keeping me from chasing this goal and succeeding much sooner. The first was a fear of being let down. I've achieved some goals in the past only to realize that they weren't all I anticipated them to be. Certainly I've also achieved goals that were very fulfilling, life-giving, and encouraged me to move forward - but I've also realized dreams that turned out to be less like a mighty zeppelin and more like a 3-week-old birthday balloon. I was afraid that the idea of using a keyboard for notation via MIDI would far outshine the experience of it.
The second type of fear that held me back was a fear of success. I admit that sounds odd but I think it happens more often than we might realize. I've experienced huge wins, achievements I'd count as milestones in my life, that left me empty. I've had goals that I thought would be some kind of pinnacles only to find they were mere foothills - that the thing I thought would bring satisfaction only served to reveal how much further I had to go. This, I think, was the primary issue that kept me from pursuing this goal sooner. What if I suddenly have the tools to make notation and arranging easier, and I fail to live up to the potential those tools give me? What if I suddenly feel a responsibility to do more with music? Sure, it's what I want to do; it's what I've been dreaming about all this time - but when it suddenly becomes possible I suddenly become timid.
I've said many times that I started this blog to force myself to do things and share them with the internet. Apparently it's starting to work a little bit. You have helped me overcome years of fear and inaction to achieve something I've dreamed about for 17 years.
What type of fear is most prevalent in your life? How will you overcome it to move toward your goals?