You can have anything you want, just not everything you want

This past week, I seriously considered buying a digital piano. Perhaps it’s because I love Debussy’s Clair de Lune and Arabesque and thought maybe, just maybe, I could learn how to play them someday. I played piano many years ago, so I wouldn’t be going in cold. I even found a piano to buy and cleared a space for it.

Luckily, good sense prevailed. I barely touch the keyboard I currently have except to work out music theory stuff. Playing Debussy? Fat chance, especially when classical guitar occupies all of the time and brain space I’ve allocated to music study. Even my ukulele is an afterthought these days.

And that doesn’t change the other things I already have on my plate. I want to spend more time writing again. I need to get back in shape. I’ve hardly knitted this year, which is unusual for me. Friends and family deserve my attention too.

I’d written before about trade-offs when deciding how we want to spend our time. It was relatively easy to drop my volunteer commitments because I didn’t care about them as much as practicing guitar. But prioritizing also requires ranking, and possibly cutting, things you like. The harsh truth is that as long as we can’t clone ourselves, we have to pick one activity over another for any given chunk of time. Prioritizing and choosing among things that are important to us is uncomfortable, but it’s unavoidable. I’ve observed people who try to avoid this truth and they’re always spinning in circles, rushing around, and wondering why they can’t make headway on the things they say they want to accomplish.

When I asked myself what I’d be willing to drop to fit piano practice into my life, the answer was “Nothing.”

So piano is off the table for good. A nice side effect is I can set aside that money to upgrade my classical guitar. Based on input from my teacher, that may end up happening sooner than I planned. If I still want to play Debussy in the far-off future, there are always guitar arrangements.