The Death of a Dream

Eighteen pages of sheet music lay scattered on the kitchen table in front of me, a labyrinth of highlighted dynamics, asterisked measure numbers, and unintelligible marginalia.

I had failed to memorize the pieces in time. The college scholarship was forfeit; my music studies likely were as well. A season’s worth of Bible studies skipped, hours upon hours of preparation and practice, and I still could not reach even the lowest tier of qualification.

I fumbled through my iTunes library and pressed play on Drew Miller’s album “Desolation.” Within seconds, the barricade that held back my tears was demolished.

"Can you know the sun only by its shadow?
Can you know a dream only by wishing it true?
Can you know a song only heard in silence?
Can you know someone who's hidden their face from you?"

"The Death of a Dream" 

Much to my regret, I only recognized the light in its absence. I missed the joy of playing new pieces, the conversations I once enjoyed at Youth Group, and the spare time to simply read a book. As the song progressed, my tattered priorities and friendships stood by, nodding knowingly, waiting for my latest ambition to breathe its last.

The final notes of “Desolation” faded away. I scrolled down to the companion album: “Consolation.”

"Love, don’t bury your hope too deep 
Lest it lives on still 
There’s nothing we’ve got that we get to keep 
In time your hands will be filled" 


In the case of my failed memorization project, “grace” appeared in the form of a local scholarship, the requirements of which were satisfied by the pieces I had already polished. I received a monetary award and was invited to play at a prestigious venue for my benefactors. Best of all, because my scholarship did not come directly from the Music Department of the college I will be attending, I am free from obligation. I have the ability to accept and decline performances, keeping piano in healthy balance with my other priorities.

Learning my limits sooner, it seems, was better. Without the tears my senior year of high school, I likely would have overcommitted in college, where the stakes would have been higher and the scars deeper. I generally operate under the impression that my future depends on present sacrifices. That may be true to an extent, but no earthly gain is worth sacrificing my relationships with God, my family, and my friends.

I know from experience.

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