Regrets


From the time I was a young, optimistic teen, I have desperately tried to live my life so that as I faced the end of my earthly journey, I would have no regrets. Many times, that kind of determined, optimism is nearly impossible, resulting in just the opposite. Not accomplishing the goal of regretlessness may, indeed, lead to the biggest regrets of all.

Now that I am middle-aged, I have a much better perspective on my life, and I have more wisdom in planning and envisioning my life yet lived. And I begin to see regrets where I have never seen them before. I am experiencing that even today.

As a second-grade tow-head, I began to receive piano lessons. It was already obvious at that young age, that I would become neither scholar nor athlete. My determined mom wanted me to learn music. As a matter of fact, she was desperate for her children to learn to play piano.  No matter what happened in life, music could be a constant, permanent companion. That, and the fact that she never had piano lessons fueled her desire for her kids to learn to play. And so we did, even against our wishes. I spent many hours on the piano bench with my mom. Not with mom in the next room, nor even in the same room but another chair, but on the bench with me; a timer in one hand, a ruler in the other. The timer was so I would know when I had served my daily 30-minute sentence; you know what the ruler was for.  I often saw lessons as punishment;  in my mom’s perspective, they were an investment.

Actually, I never really liked playing the piano. It was ok, but I could take it or leave it. Played some in high school in a rock band, but soon discovered there aren’t many rock-and-roll pianists out there. I played some in college, even making piano performance my major for a semester. But I soon discovered how much easier it was to control one voice than eight fingers, two thumbs, two feet, and still turn the pages of my music. So I switched to vocal performance, and pretty much forgot about it.

About 6 or 7 years ago, it hit me.

I really fell in love with playing again. Serving as a Minister of Music in churches all my life, I have been around pianos, and worked with them every week. But again, my enthusiasm was underwhelming. And I can’t really say what lit my fire for playing again; maybe I just woke up, or something inside my heart finally communicated with my head that playing was important to me. And I have enjoyed- no, been overjoyed- to have been able to play every week for the church I now serve. I love it!

I was fortunate here to meet and get to know a gentleman named Larry Dalton.  A concert pianist, a Steinway Artist, and a generally all-around, down-home good guy. Larry had a fantastic personality, and talent measuring off the charts.  A dedicated servant of Christ, Larry dedicated his life and his talents and skills to excellently performing his literature, all the while, recognizing the needs of those around him.  He toured more than 40 countries, and wrote and arranged for some of the biggest artists in music.  Yet he played our church a couple of times a year.  He travelled on mission trips, playing on everything from the greatest Steinway to junked-out pianos in storage basements. Larry was here just a few weekends ago, listening to our early band, and we had spoken about me taking lessons from him later in the summer.  He was scheduled to play here again in a few weeks for a fundraiser for a local women’s shelter.
He was;  Larry died last weekend.
At a youthful 63, Larry’s heart stopped beating while he was asleep.  As I write, I am editing video clips for use at his funeral and memorial services.  I see him from years ago, playing with the London Symphony.  In a church basement in Japan.  In our own worship center at a retirement celebration.  On television, offering worship music between interviews.  Larry developed his significant talent into skills beyond measure, and shared them with the world, while remembering the Savior whom he served.  
Um, yeah, back to the regrets.
Three regrets have been realized in the last few days:
  One, that as a college-aged adult, I did not take advantage of the gift my mom worked so hard to give me as a child.
  Two, that I did not know Larry Dalton better than I do.
  Three, that I do not have the resume of social and spiritual concern for the world as Larry did.
Each of those, I can change.  I am middle aged, and have learned to see a little better now.
Thank you, my friend.  For helping me avoid some regrets.
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