Childhood Dreams Come True

Updated on April 16, 2018
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MacDonald is a scholar, practitioner, and leader in the healthcare industry for over thirty years and is passionate about lifelong education

What are your three dream goals in life?

It was my turn. There were about two hundred people in the church that Wednesday evening as I walked up the stage to sit at the church synthesizer. I turned the piano on and gently touched the keys. There was a lovely sound, but it was in the distance; I immediately sensed the mistake; the loudspeakers faced the audience; the speaker on the piano was off, and I did not know how to get it loud. As I played and sang, I got a strange, surreal sensation as one who is lost in a dark world. I kept thinking, "I need to hear what I am playing; yet, all the sound is going to the speakers, and I have no feedback." I did not complete my performance; I wound down and stood up; walked back to my seat, one hundred miles away, feeling ugly and a failure ready to sink into the ground below.

Thirty-something years ago when I became born again (according to John 3: 5,7), I read an article in the Readers Digest talking about the desires of the heart. Although I cannot remember everything in the article, I remember being challenged to write down three things I would like to accomplish before I die. I wrote down my desire list. Top of my list, I wanted to know how to play the piano. Over the years, I forgot about my desire list. And yet, the desires of my heart have pursued me, or is it me that sought them; I can't tell.

I learned to play the guitar when I was ten, long before I met Jesus. I learned to make music with a six-stringed guitar. I should point out that I taught myself to make music with the guitar. I saw someone playing the guitar; when the opportunity came, I put my hands on the musical instrument and began to connect the dots until I got basic sounds out. Over time, I perfected my transitions between the guitar chords. Now that I know there are specific names to the chords, A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, I can say in retrospect, I taught myself all the basic chords by trial and error, correcting myself along the way.

I was fourteen when I went to Secondary School where I encountered the piano for the first time. The sound of the piano was divine. I fell in love with the piano at first sight. I was amazed by the beauty of the piano and the complexity I saw in it. Both attracted me. I had a chance to try my hand at making music with the piano, and it was horrible. I could not understand how anyone could make such glorious sounds to come out of such a complex machine. I realized that training and experience were required to play the piano. There was no piano in my world. As much as I loved to make music with the guitar, I was more in love with the piano. I also encountered the portable modern electronic synthesizers. These piano-like machines make good music in experienced hands. I tried to make music with one of them, and it was horrible.

About ten years ago, my opportunity to learn to play the piano finally came. I took the first six or seven lessons, grounding me in the science and art of piano playing. I call it a science because the piano is only one among many instruments that I would consider instruments of precision. Playing the piano, as far as I am concerned is an art that can be mastered. After the brief introduction to the piano, I began to explore for myself the science of music and started to put into practice the art of playing the piano.

Finally, after more than four years of trying to make music with the piano, I made a breakthrough. I understood how to combine the notes with my fingers on the right hand (I am right-handed). I was delighted to make sweet sounds. Nevertheless, I knew I was very far from my goal. Knowing that I was not good enough at playing the piano frustrated me very much. I tried very hard to practice, but I knew that my practice lacked depth. I was swimming in the shallow pond, in the children's section, for too long. One day, I came across an excellent piano teacher on YouTube who demonstrated the use of the left hand. That exposed my shortfall: I was good with my right hand; I was playing the notes, but my left hand and the deeper notes on the left side of the piano were absent. When I tried to employ my left-hand, I discovered that I could not control my fingers on the left hand. I needed two separate brains; one to monitor and work with the fingers on the left side and the other, the right. I was so discouraged that I gave up trying to play the piano; for six months I refused to go near the piano.

One day, I got up and convinced myself that I could do it; that I could develop two brains, one for each hand. The only way to achieve the two-brain goal was to keep on working on myself. I prayed to the Lord to help me develop the second brain to enable me playing the piano. The experience of teaching my left hand to play in coordination with my right hand was incredibly frustrating. There were two challenges for me. First, I had to learn to hear all my fingers every time they touched a key on the piano. Then, I had to learn to place separate fingers on different keys at the same time, to produce harmonious sounds intentionally. Learning to work with the left hand separately from the right hand was the most challenging exercise for me. I broke down many times trying to achieve this goal. On more than two occasions I just gave up and walked away from the piano because I could not do it. But my love for the piano kept me going back.

It has been a month now since I finally achieved the feat; I can use my left hand, and I can hear all the sounds when my fingers touch the keyboard. I can also choose the keys I want. It has taken me ten years to reach the peak of this mountain; now I can see the other peaks. This peak is my Kilimanjaro, the highest. I can read music, but I cannot follow notes when I play the piano; I do not have enough experience to do so. That is a peak for another time. However, I can sit for hours and make the most glorious melodies just like those I heard when I first met the piano as a teenager. I want to play to inspire, not only to entertain. I do not regard myself an entertainer, instead, a worshipper. In the last few years, my love for the guitar has also intensified as my knowledge of the piano improves.

The incredible thing is that I am achieving this goal at the same time as I am reaching another childhood goal of attaining a doctoral degree. If there is any encouragement from me it is this; our dreams make life more meaningful. Achieving our dreams is the ultimate joy of life. Knowing what we desire is the first step; listing our thoughts and placing them before Almighty God is almost a guarantee, in my mind, that even if we forget along the way, He will remind us of our dreams and help us achieve them. Jesus said I have come that you may have life in its fullness (John 10:10). Take a piece of paper, pen down your three desires that you want to achieve while you can. Over the years, you will look back at this moment as I am looking back at the Readers Digest article that I cannot pinpoint today.


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