A fine woman pianist once gave a performance for a large group of women. Afterward, over coffee, a woman gushed to the virtuoso, “I’d give anything to play as you do.”
The woman who had given the concert took a sip of her coffee and fixed the red-faced, slightly perspiring matron with a cold gaze. Then she said, “Oh no you wouldn’t!”
A hush fell over the group, coffee cups stopped on their ways to and from saucers, and the perspiring matron squirmed in sudden embarrassment. Looking about her she repeated, but in a softer voice, her original statement, “I would, too, give anything to play the piano as you do.”
The female virtuoso continued to sip her coffee and shake her head. “No, you wouldn’t,” she repeated. “If you would, you could play as well as I do, possibly better, possibly a little worse. You’d give anything to play as I do except TIME…except the one thing it takes.
You wouldn’t sit and practice, hour after hour, year after year.” Then she flashed a warm smile, “Please understand,” she said, “I’m not criticizing. I’m just telling you that when you say you’d give anything to play as I do, you really don’t mean it. You really don’t mean it at all.”
In the pause that followed, a napkin falling to the rug would have rattled the windows. The women look at each other and then back at their coffee cups. They realized that this woman has spoken the truth.
They would like to have her talent now, fully matured and developed; but as for putting in the twenty years of unremitting toil that went into the fashioning of it—no, that was a different matter. Soon, the light conversation was resumed and the incident was glossed over, but not forgotten.
People are forever saying, “I’d give anything…”; but the fact remains that they don’t, they give very little, often nothing, to do the things they say they would give anything to do.
Those who envy the star performers in any field should realize that across the entire galaxy of achievement the stars are those who did not idly wish for success. They gave their dedication, their singleness of purpose, their days and nights, weeks, months, and years to an unceasing struggle for greater proficiency.
And when the talent they have so painstakingly cultivated for so long begins to bloom, others, who had the same time, the same opportunity, the same freedom, come up to them and say, “I’d give anything to do what you’re doing, to have the things you have.” But as the lady pianist said: “I’m just telling you that when you say you’d give anything to play as I do, you really don’t mean it. You really don’t mean it at all.”
Why not become what you dream of? Each of us has the time and the opportunity. If we say we do not, we are perhaps kidding ourselves. With enough effort and perseverance everyone can become great at something.
Sometimes it seems there are far too many spectators in the game of life and not enough players. Maybe we are so busy watching the world and everyone else that we forget we have a world of our own to win.