Truer words have never been spoken.
A final product is the result of cumulative steps.
I always wanted to play the piano. I'm not sure why. I remember as a kid playing "air" piano on a long drive home from Calgary with my dad in his old orange truck. Stevie Wonder's version of That's What Friends Are For was on the radio. As best as I can recall, I played "air" piano and sang that song over and over for at least an hour after the song ended on the radio. I wonder how good a piano player I could be today if I started taking lessons back then. That's a quarter century of practice. I'm sure I'd at least be decent.
I'm amazed how well I play the guitar. I know I'm not the greatest, but I remember the first time I picked up a guitar. I was 13, in grade 8, in my French teacher's classroom, over the lunch hour. I couldn't strum. I could barely hold down a string without fretting out. My pinky had no co-ordination. I had no musical theory. I joke that I managed to cram 2 years of lessons into 2 decades. I would never have imagined back then the skill level I would have today. I can jam. I can solo. I can improvize. I can learn and improve and entertain. All because of the cumulative effects of a few lessons and a few practice sessions over the years. Had I really worked hard at it, I'm sure I could be light years ahead of my ability at the moment, but, nonetheless, I'm decent.
Unfortunately, I've learned other things over time as well. I learned early on in my childhood to fear rejection, people, relationships, affection, physical contact. And unfortunately those experiences were just as cumulative as learning to play the guitar. I "learned" I wasn't worthy of relationships, that no one could like the real me, and that I would be isolated and alone for the rest of my life. Unfortunately I learned those lessons very well. It's only been recently that I've actively and intentionally embarked on a new path. I'm undoing the cumulative damage from my past. I'm gaining small victories in my life. One at a time. And they are cumulative too. I wish I started this a long time ago, but I suppose it's better late than never. Areas of my life I thought were closed up forever are beginning to open again.
I think the thing I learned, and am learning daily, is that possibilities beyond what I thought were possible even a short time ago, are well within my reach. All I had to do was reach for them.
While I was practicing the guitar one day a guy showed up in my classroom. I think he was a former student. He whipped out one of the guitars and started playing a song I had never heard before by a band I didn't know anything about, except that they were evil. Back then I never could have imagined that all these years later I could be rocking out on my guitar playing that exact same song just as skilfully, if not more so, than that guy who walked into my classroom. I'm curious to see what other things I will accomplish in the future that I couldn't even comprehend in my past.