The piano that takes up much of my parents' living room is the one both my sister and I learned to play on. It's the same one my mom even learned to play when she was a girl. And before that, many others practised on those same white and black keys.
You see, my maternal grandparents bought this piano second hand from a piano teacher when they immigrated to Canada in the early 1950s. The upright-grand piano was already an antique then.
When I was about three-years old that piano found its home in our basement playroom. During that time my mom (mum for Australians) sometimes babysat for a few neighbourhood kids.
One day, when nobody was really paying attention, one of the boys began playing the piano...with a hard, plastic toy. The result: many of the white keys (still in original, old-fashioned ivory) got chipped at the edges.
When I was old enough to start learning to play piano, these marks made finding certain notes a breeze. I didn't have to memorize or learn the correct tone. I just needed to look for the biggest chunk out of a key to know that was middle C.
Flawed but not forgotten
On a piano, this key is sort of the centre point off which everything else is played. It's like a reference. Even as a novice piano player, middle C is the first key to learn. A basic C chord has no sharps or flats.
Yet this important key on our piano is flawed. That is unless we want to repair it with modern plastic or resin, which, in my opinion, would take away its original ivory and ebony beauty.
Sometimes the most flawed or challenging part of our lives becomes a reference point from which we can understand the rest of our lives. Right now, I'm facing the challenge of transitioning between two stages of life.
Transitions are challenging
Earlier this year I made the decision to leave Brisbane and return back to Canada, knowing that it wasn't going to be an easy move. The Australian city had become my home after more than four years of living there. Simple things like being able to go for a walk early in the morning because it's already warm out or the consistently blue sky, to deeper things like the relationships I'd fostered made it hard to leave.
Now being in Canada there are a both celebrations and challenges. It's been wonderful to meet my seven-month-old nephew for the first time. Yet being a grown-up child living "at home" with my parents isn't easy. Using quarters (25 cent pieces), or driving on the right side of the road again remind me of the Canadian things I missed. The 10c rainy weather at the end of May, well, I'm not enjoying that very much. Nor do I like the fact that many of my closest friends, for the most part, are now on the other side of the world.
Challenges give us strength
I really don't like transitions. They're challenging. But I keep putting myself into circumstances or life changes that require me to deal with transitions head-on. I know that times of transition can be just like those marked-up keys on my parents' piano. They stick out. It's hard not to notice them.
A previous transition I remember well is moving from my hometown to Canada's capital, Ottawa. It's about a five-hour drive away. In the span of eight weeks I'd ended a long-term dating relationship, quit a job and got a new one, moved to this new city, and was living in a hotel until I found a place of my own.
I don't recommend going through those life changes all at once. But, a bit like that hard not to notice piano key, looking back at this transition helps me understand other areas of my life.
I learned that I was bold; I made a group of great friends, whom I still have today, within just a few months of living in a new city. I learned that God is really on my side; every day I'd walk to work wondering how He was keeping it all together and me from having a mini-meltdown. I learned that while my circumstances were overwhelming, I could find strength to make it one day at a time.
Now, I can look at the transition I'm going through, and recognize that I've gone through something similar before. Just like quickly recognizing that flawed middle C key, I can look at the chipped parts of my life and remember how I've handled myself before. And hopefully do just as well if not better this time through the challenge.
Lisa Goetze is a 30-something woman trying to love Jesus and love people. She's on a journey to find how to do this best through her love for turning ordinary spaces into welcoming ones, encouraging women of all ages to recognize their value and whenever possible including coffee and good food.
Lisa Goetze's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/lisa-goetze.html