Example of Reflective Writing
Underline the reflective passages in the following piece of writing.
Face the music
It was my first, last, and only piano exam. I'd put off this terrifying
event for nine years, and now I had to face the music that is,
make the music.
I remember the enormous sense of dread for months leading up to the
event. I was afraid I would fail miserably, that I would be permanently
stigmatized by my lack of musical talent. My fear was odd, really. I
didn't mind getting up on a stage to act or deliver a speech, but I
felt my lungs shrink and my stomach turn to lead at the very thought
of having to perform for the music examiner.
I tripped going onto the stage, which wasn't an auspicious beginning.
However, I somehow kept breathing and, rather mechanically, pounded
out the couple of pieces I'd memorized. I remember that one was a favourite,
Kinderszenen by Schumann. I thought I had mastered the piece, but was
mortified when the examiner played it back to me in double time. Clearly,
my interpretation (which was really my teacher's interpretation, imperfectly
parroted by my fingers) was dead wrong.
Although I'm sure the exam continued to go downhill from there, I don't
remember much else, except the ice cream sundae afterwards to celebrate
my survival. Looking back, I see that the whole thing, which seemed
such an important rite of passage at the time, was completely meaningless
for me. That's what made it so difficult.
As the years have past since then, I've come to accept that my musical
ability if indeed I have any is the least of my talents.
In the small town I grew up in girls were expected to learn to play
the piano. However, the piano was never really my instrument, not in
the way words were. I had no ear; I played by rote, not by heart. The
sounds I produced were reasonably accurate, but they were, generally
speaking, as lifeless as the tune from a music box.
A mediocre pianist
I don't think I'm selling myself short. Three years after that traumatic
exam, I can see that the event symbolized for me the fear I'd always
felt about playing the piano: the fear of being in the wrong. I was,
at best, a mediocre pianist because music was a task of repetition for
me that was void of creativity. I was always trying to measure up to
an ideal created by someone else rather than messing around to mold
my own ideals.
I would have to grow up, leave the piano behind, and get a few years
under my belt to discover that true creativity involves embracing imperfection.
I'm proudest now not of the certificate from the Royal Conservatory,
which has long ago been misplaced, but of that stumble onto the examination
stage. It's in life's stumbles, I think, that we learn the most about
our shortcomings and our true potential.