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~ Hazel Harps On

Advice from an Angel

Warning: If you play the harp, people will accuse you of being an angel. They do it all the time, usually with a snigger. Flattering? Cool? Methinks not! Accurate? Well...

The harp may be popular with the angels, at least according to the art world, but be assured, harp-players are not flimsy, floaty creatures. Quite the opposite in fact. To play like an angel, you have to practise like a devil. All those close-set strings are nightmarish until you get used to them. Years of grit and determination are needed to master the complexities of the instrument. Strong arm muscles are an absolute must if you want to take it anywhere. Not to mention a car with a big boot.

Harp-playing can appear shimmery and dreamy but, like most dreams, it only becomes a reality after time (lots) and effort (lots). The same is true of my other passion, writing. So many people aspire to get that novel written, nay published, nay up there in the bestseller lists. But the odds are stacked horribly against us, partly because there is a vast amount of competition and partly because it isn’t as easy as it looks.

There is hope though. Tenacity achieves miracles. Julie Andrews calls us to 'climb every mountain' etc until we reach our dream and she is right of course. If you stick to it you really can get there. It is just a matter of pressing on - even (or especially) when everything seems to go against you.

But perhaps ‘getting there’ is overrated. It is perfectly possible to climb a mountain and only notice your shortness of breath and aching calf muscles in your anxiety to reach the top. Your eventual arrival at the summit may feel like an achievement but it’s a short-lived one. So my advice to my fellow dream-chasers is this:

DON'T always keep your eye on the goal.

Look upwards, downwards, backwards and sideways as you go. Relish the joys along the way – the metaphorical sun on your skin and wind in your hair, the stunning views at every turn.

It is about love of what you are doing. The first time I managed to play an arpeggio on the harp it took my breath away. How could this amazing sound be channelled through my clumsy, fat fingers? There was a similar thrill when I completed my first short story. Small achievements in themselves, yes, but what joy they brought! The long, hard slog is absolutely worthwhile. Not for the final trophy dream, but because that slog itself is packed with a whole load of brighter and more tangible dreams constantly bursting into reality. You can take that from me. I’m an angel after all. I should know.

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