He loved the violin. He loved going to the concert hall and hearing a solo violinist. He had thought about it for years and now was his time. He would take violin lessons.
The following Saturday he bought a violin. He felt like a superstar walking out of the music shop with the case under his arm. He got online and signed up with a local teacher who was well respected and set the date for his first lesson.
Every evening, leading up to that first lesson, he took his new violin out of the case and dusted it with the cleaning cloth the salesman had given him. He tuned the violin, gently plucking the strings and using the electronic tuner he had bought. He left the case open so he could glance over at the violin while he watched TV or so his friends could see it when they stopped by.
Finally the evening came for his first lesson.
The teacher taught the young man how to hold the violin and the bow. She taught him the notes of each string and how to move the bow between them. She then gave him several exercises and sent him home with these assignments.
At his second lesson the teacher asked the young man to perform his first assignment for her. He struggled. The teacher corrected a few things and sent him home with an additional assignment.
At his third lesson, again, the teacher asked him to perform his assignment. The young man struggled much like he had the week before.
And so it went: weeks of lessons, assignments, little if any discernible progress.
After a few months of lessons, the young man was surprised when the teacher told him to leave his violin in its case and have a seat. She sat down across from him.
“Tell me how has your practice time has been going?” she asked.
“It’s been going OK,” said the young man as he glanced around the room.
She was careful with her wording. “How often did you practice this last week?”
The young man didn’t quite know what to say. He looked over at his violin case which was standing open. He looked at the golden wood grain of the instrument. It was beautiful.
“Remember how I told you to practice every day for 20 minutes? We’ve talked about that several times.”
“I do. Yes.”
“Have you done that?”
“No. See, things are crazy at work.”
“And the neighbors have been gone for three weeks and I’m house-sitting their dog.”
“And I had a really bad cold over the weekend.”
The teacher sat patiently and listened to the young man. “May I be frank?” she asked.
The young man nodded.
“You have told me many times that you love the violin and that you would love to learn to play it.” The man nodded again. “But I have identified a gap,” continued the teacher. “You have not yet committed to the process, to the work of becoming a violinist. You are not in love with learning to play the violin – you are in love with the idea of learning to play the violin.”
*This is not original. I heard it a long time ago and re-wrote it for you here.