“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.” -Anne Lamott
A 500-pound piano sits near the entry of our home, unplayed for years, begging for a new beginning. It’s a hulk–it takes up a lot of space, but it’s been with me for a few years. My parents bought it when I was 5 years old so my brother and I could learn to play. It has been through 8 moves since I have known it, but it has far more of a story to tell than the forty years it’s been with me.
One of the many piano tuners who has tried to work magic on the piano has commented about the coal dust in the innards, remarking it likely spent part of its life in West Virginia. It joined my life in Arkansas and moved through Texas, Pennsylvania, northern Ohio, Tennessee, and now southwestern Ohio.
The Case for the Piano
I grew up watching my grandmother play the piano for her church every Sunday in Western Kansas, but the interesting part is that she didn’t rely on music. She played almost every song by ear. I wanted to be like her, and worked hard to learn to play. Music is in my blood, as it is for so many. But the problem with our piano, was that it is so far out of tune that it was unplayable.
For years, I’ve tried to figure out what to do with the piano. The cost to refurbish it is steep– thousands of dollars, which even once it has been rebuilt, is not guaranteed to hold its tune. As it was, the piano was said to have a value of about $300. To me, I couldn’t trash it. I love it for many reasons most people wouldn’t understand. I love the lion’s claw feet, the symmetry of the inner workings and hammer mechanisms, the substantial brass plate, and the perfect height of the keyboard for my height.
For sentimental value and because my boys also have grown to love the piano, we decided to try something different with the 110-year-old piano: remove the existing keyboard and add a simple new electronic keyboard which will hold its tune and be playable for years.
Even when something is said to be over–whether it’s a relationship which seems hopeless or a piano which seems useless–it is possible to find new life for it. It takes a little hope, love, and vision to find restoration.
I love playing our new old piano. It brings me much joy.
Hope for New Beginnings
No matter how damaged or sordid a past we might have, some things like friends, family, (old pianos), and loved ones can find a new life this Christmas season. It’s the season of hope, of light rising despite the darkness, and of new life and renewed relationships.