There is a saying, used by several prominent figures over the years, including John F. Kennedy, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
While the saying speaks about broader life conditions, what it really says is that we all have a choice. We can complain and be negative, or we can take positive action.
Learning Highland bagpipes (or any musical instrument) can be a frustrating affair. There are a lot of moving parts to make work at any one time. It’s easy to slip into negative thinking when success is elusive or your progress is not what you expect. It even happens to experienced players! It’s times like these where your brain can curse darkness or light candles. We can make a choice to curse our lack of progress, or embrace the disappointment and take action.
As we all move into the new year, it is typically a time to take stock and set personal goals. One great sign you are taking the right action is you are here at Dojo University! When thinking about your broader bagpiping goals though, it’s important to note that disappointment and setbacks will come. Rather than let that deter you and get you off track, hold onto the the notion of “embracing the disappointment” and keep in mind some key points.
1. Don’t let struggle or difficulty be a deterrent. When success comes easy, it’s tempting to slack off. Early struggle provides motivation to improve. When success comes eventually, it is the sweeter for having put in the work.
2. Don’t be married to one idea of success. Too often, success in your efforts is someone else’s idea and not your own. When personal success comes for you, you might not recognize it! There are many paths to improvement and quality piping. Formulate your own concept of “success” and let that guide you.
3. Let your passion “light the candle.” Your level of disappointment is a reflection of the passion behind your effort. Your passion for learning the bagpipes should be helping you make decisions for action. Don’t let your setbacks make decisions for you.
4. Be honest and fearless. Too often we let fear dictate our efforts. As a result, we make excuses and lose focus. Take honest stock of your effort and take appropriate action with confidence.