Scales and Prefaces: How I Love Intro Work

It’s good to prep.

It’s good to play your scales. It’s necessary to read the “What’s in this Book” section of a textbook. It’s good to make coffee in the morning. It’s good to read the preface to a book of poetry. It’s good to brew tea at night.

It’s all good.

For me however, it’s also all avoidance.

Avoidance of the actual thing.

As a child, I would play my scales slower and slower, until I was playing the same notes of the same scales. It was no longer to build my finger’s muscles or to bring precision to my muscle memory. It was to pass the time so when the time was up, I didn’t actually have to start.

I have read intros to so many textbooks and proceeded to never read more than five pages of the actual book.

For studying, I always stick to reading and never do the exercises.

When I don’t want to do something, I make coffee or tea, and then take my time about drinking it, all before I would supposedly start my new activity.

Procrastination in the innocent form of preparation: that’s what I’m about.

But it is no longer pure. Just as I was no longer concentrating on what in my scales contributed to my edification — the angle of the bow, the position of my fingers, the pressure of my hands — all lost to me, my prep pursuits are no longer preparation, but avoidance.

You’d think making coffee before a large endeavor would be helpful, yes? I’d tell myself it’ll give me just the kick in the pants I need to get going. But then the focus turns to the coffee, and drinking the coffee. The coffee is no longer a stepping stone. It’s the thing.

Avoidance can sometimes be a good thing. Perhaps it provides that degree of separation necessary to realize you don’t actually want or need to do the thing. Perhaps it allows you to regroup before starting the thing.

But for me, in the end it’s just a pile of unread textbooks and imperfect half-hearted scales.

I will never start the thing.

I need a new program.

I need to find out what I really, truly want.

But never fear. I’ll keep drinking coffee.