The Value of Relaxation

“She thought that relaxation was attractive only in those for whom it was an unnatural state; then even limpness acquired purpose.” Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

piano-blogI don’t like to admit it, but sometimes the multitude of life’s stressors can be a bit too overwhelming. After 15 years of playing, piano is still my preferred form of therapy. After a long day of school, work, research, studying, and the like, all it takes is a few minutes at the piano until I begin to feel my pent-up stress melting away instantly. In that moment, nothing matters but the music I’m creating with the utmost focus of my mind, the delicate movement of my hands, the precise touch of my fingers, and the notes on the sheet to guide my way. When I play, time seems to become irrelevant. It’s not entirely nonexistent, but the thought of time and appointments and deadlines and worries and to-do lists simply has no bearing. Such things can manage to be put on hold for the present until my mind calms and properly rejuvenates from the therapeutic action of playing the piano. It’s an end in itself, the music. I don’t play for anyone but myself and the happiness it brings me. It requires relaxation and effort simultaneously, which is partly why I obtain so much delight and value from it. Mindless, purposeless relaxation – the sort involving complete lack of action, thought, and meaning – provides no value for me. But blissful relaxation which requires some degree of worthwhile effort and which provides euphoria and fulfillment – that is the form of relaxation which brings with it the most valuable enjoyment possible.

And behold, my current endeavor. I tear up every time I listen to this performance. Horowitz makes it look so incredibly simple, but that is not the case when your hands barely reach the length of an octave. Enjoying the journey nonetheless.

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