I've been spending considerable time lately in front of the Casio Privia piano that I bought during last month's self-improvement spending spree. I have a book on Jazz that I've been learning from, and I wanted to comment on how difficult it has been to learn the new style (II-V-I) of chords and inverted chords from scratch.
I've been playing blues and the New Orleans style of piano by ear since I was inspired in high school by a close friend of mine who up to and including today is by far the best piano player I have ever seen. However, my playing was purely by ear. This new style is literally, by the book. I have never seen something so difficult.
I find that I'll walk away from the piano with a headache, but when I return to the piano some time (hours / days) later, my mind is clear and I unconsciously learned the material that was previously frustrating to me. I must also comment that this sometimes takes many tries before it happens, but when it does, the feeling of accomplishment is very empowering. What I do with that newfound power is I channel it into the next level of learning which causes the frustration response all over again, albeit now at a higher level with more complex playing.
I wonder whether in a few months or years I will look back and say, "wow, I did it." I am starting to experience that now [that I am studying for the Bar Exam] with regard to the years of hard work to get through law school. I suppose this feeling is common for me when I accomplish something that I worked really hard on. Another area that I've felt this is with regard to my religious pursuits and in my Torah learning.
I once decided to every day go to sleep knowing more and being a better person than I was when I woke up that morning. Anthony Robbins calls this model of living "C.A.N.I." which stands for constant and neverending improvement. I believe this is the goal of life. The trick is to channel it into a skill set or set of knowledge that will reap both spiritual and physical rewards, and not merely momentary pleasures. Of course I am still thinking about last night where I faced a challenge and somehow succeeded in pulling myself away from a temptation that I didn't think that I had the strength to overcome.
I still see myself as weak in this area, but as of last night, something inside me changed and I made some kind of resolve, although I am not yet sure what it is.