This weekend, I got to see a family friend, Lalo, perform at Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes – one of Mexico’s grandest and most important performance spaces. It gave me chills and immense pride to see someone reach such a huge career milestone – what an amazing accomplishment!
As soon as I joined Lalo in front of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, he was dressed up in his mariachi outfit as was the rest of his crew – they drew a lot of attention by tourists and we were barely able to escape from all the people trying to take pictures with them!
After meeting up with Lalo, I got to go backstage and check out the National Theater! I was so excited but low key freaking out. First of all, there were guards everywhere and I somehow managed to just walk past security without a pass. I was low key concerned I would get caught and sent to Mexican jail – tgod that didn’t happen. Second, people are only allowed to enter the National Theater if they are there to see a performance or are on a guided tour. I got to walk around on stage with all the performers, stand centimeters away from the beautiful mosaic stage curtain designed by Tiffany made up of a million crystals, and wander around aimlessly pretending I was part of that night’s performance crew.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to view the official performance because it sold out weeks before I was able to purchase tickets. However, I got to watch the dress rehearsal and be the only person sitting in the audience, front and center. It was so cool! Here is a video with a few clips I took of the performance – I apologize for the video quality, one can only do so much with an iPhone and Snapchat. (make sure you click on the little settings dial and choose a high resolution to view the video)
Lalo has been playing the violin professionally for decades and performing on this stage was his opportunity to be able to say, “I made it.” It was awesome seeing how excited he was to be there – not every musician or performer has the opportunity or is invited to play at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City. Visiting el Palacio de Bellas Artes with Lalo and his mariachi crew was a unique experience that I won’t soon forget. There is one conversation that really stuck with me and has left me thinking a lot.
We ran into a violin student and Lalo randomly started playing a song on his violin. The student’s admiration for Lalo’s violin skills was apparent and he said that he hoped to one day be able to play like that. Then, Lalo and one of his fellow mariachi guys made the student play a song on the spot. I could tell he was nervous but he played really well and managed to impress the two violinists critiquing him. Then, Lalo’s friend said, “having the ability to play an instrument is a gift, you should never give up on something you love; especially if you are good.” Earlier, we had been talking about the fact that I gave up playing the piano and when he said this to the violin student, I felt the comment was slightly directed at me – even if it wasn’t his intention.
I started learning to play the piano when I was 7 years old and started competing nationally when I was 9. I still remember coming home after my first lesson, darting to the little keyboard my parents had bought for me, and forcing them to listen to me play my first scales over and over again. Slowly I learned to read a new language and enjoyed memorizing the acronyms (such as FACE, Every Good Boy Does Fine, All Cows Eat Grass, & Good Boys Do Fine Always) that allowed me to easily remember musical notes.
I remember when my parents came home and told me they had just purchased a baby grand piano for me. Oh, the excitement! I will never forget the pride I felt when I sat down and transcribed my first song by ear in just a couple hours. Playing the piano always helped me clear my mind and feel relaxed. As my teacher said, “you can’t play Bach and also worry about something else at the same time.” I loved the power and beauty that came with playing an instrument and making an inanimate object sing.
Then, after a decade of playing the piano, I decided to give it up. I gave up going to lessons and competing because I was stressed out about college applications and I wanted to enjoy my senior year. I felt I didn’t have the time to dedicate hours a day to playing the piano. I knew these weren’t really legitimate excuses and I couldn’t even bring myself to face my piano teacher because I was ashamed I was giving up something that I loved so much. It is a decision I still regret from time to time – such as today. When I went off to college, I told myself that I would pick it up again. But, I never made the effort to continue playing the piano consistently.
At one point in my life, I truly wanted to be a concert pianist – and that still sounds like an amazing career that I might have been able to achieve. For the time being, I have decided to dedicate my efforts towards my business career and I hope I made the right decision..
I have extreme FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when it comes to career decisions. I always thought this was normal but then after discussing with several friends, I realized that it really isn’t. I just believe there are too many things to do in this world, to many experiences to be had, too many contradicting opportunities to seize – it truly stresses me out. I know that life is all about balance and we can’t do everything. But, how am I to decide when I have so many different passions that I want to pursue?
A quote that perfectly sums up my life:
“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.” – Jonathan Safran Foer
I love music, I love literature, I love the arts. I want to write a novel one day. And be the founder of a nonprofit that makes an impact on the lives of those that lack access to education. I want to travel the world and experience new cultures. I want to learn 9 languages fluently. I want to work for a social enterprise that impacts the lives of others. There are so many things I want to accomplish in this life and the trouble is finding the time to do it all.
My current career path is not as clear as I would like it to be. I may not really know exactly what I want right now – and that’s ok because I am only 22 years old and figuring it all out shall be fun. I just know that one day I hope to look back on my life and be able to say, “I made it.” I still don’t know what “making it” looks like for me – but I am excited to find out. Maybe I will decide to be a concert pianist – it’s never too late right? There are 80 year olds graduating from college and 50 year olds changing career paths. There are also dedicated violinists who have been playing their instrument for decades, reaching the height of their career, and performing on the most important stage in Mexico – el Palacio de Bellas Artes. Congratulations Lalo, you made it!