Photos of a French Piano · Amr Eldib 

Photos of a French Piano

I think I was walking back from the dentist. That’s usually the route I take when I’m coming back from the dentist. It was sometime in August, and it wasn’t raining, for a change. I cross the bridge in my walk back and on the bridge, you come up to where there’s an arch. Under the arch, they’ve set up an old piano, free for any one to play. I’ve seen it before but it’s almost always busy. There’s at least one person willing to stop for few minutes to play on the piano.
It wasn’t busy that day.
I stopped.
I began hitting on one of the keys. Once, twice, again and again. The piano is under the arch, so it’s in a semi-closed room with very high ceiling. Every play on the key is loud, but made louder and more majestic with the echo from above.
There’s a chair but I wouldn’t sit. I could close my eyes and enjoy the simple note, or I can open them and enjoy the view from above the bridge overlooking English Bay and the entry to Vancouver Harbour. Even with all the ugly trans-pacific container ships, it’s still a beautiful sight to see. But, I still wouldn’t sit.

Vancouver's English Bay
Vancouver's English Bay from Burrard Bridge. Beautiful, even with the ugly ships and crooked picture

A few moments pass by and a couple comes along, waiting for me to move along to get their turn, so I do.
I don’t know anything about music. Yes, I was a solo singer in the music group when I was in primary school, but I was, like, seven. I didn’t take music lessons since then, and I didn’t really get into music. But the piano always seemed different to me. It seemed like something that I would enjoy.
Not enjoy the music that I would make, or enjoy playing in a group or in front of people, but rather that I would simply enjoy playing the piano. Close my eyes and take in the melody and lose myself for a moment.
Other instruments might seem easier to play or more fun, but the piano was special.
This feeling isn’t really based on the music, I still don’t know anything about music. It’s just that it seems effortless to play the piano with lots of room to enjoy and experience, rather than perform.
I stepped away and got back to my walking thinking about how I always wanted to learn how to play the piano and how I probably never will. It just seems so far away from everything I know and everything I do. It’s probably one of those things where you get really excited about, but when you try it, reality hits and you get that it’s not exactly how you imagined it or really anything close to it.
I started thinking about all the things that I always wanted to learn but probably never will.
French. I always wanted to learn French and speak it fluently. It’s so elegant, beautiful and just rolls off the tongue.
I learned French in school for about 5 years. While I enjoyed it, I really hated it. I didn’t see what’s the point of learning yet another foreign language. I was already learning English, and that was difficult enough, with Arabic as my native language. Not to mention how they teach languages in school is really awful, plus the stress of having to pass exams and get the right grades. It’s not an environment to enjoy the language. But I still enjoyed it.
I’ve been to Paris and would love to enjoy it more freely without a language barrier.
Then, there’s Photography. I always thought I have a good eye for what makes a good photo. I wasn’t sure if I’ll actually enjoy going on a tour and taking pictures, but I was sure I’ll be good at it. I’ll enjoy creating a good picture.
That would be a good hashtag, I thought. Things you always wanted to do but probably never will, or #ThingsIWouldLikeToLearnButProbablyNeverWill. A mouthful, for sure, but some good hashtags are. I got out my phone, and started tweeting it, one after another.

#ThingsIWouldLikeToLearnButProbablyNeverWill

I looked at the three of them. Together they stood to form a question.

Why?
Why “you probably never will”?
Well, those are just not my usual kind of thing.
Says who?

….
I didn’t know how to answer my own question.

You grow up with certain assumptions about yourself and everyone around you. These assumptions aren’t false. They’re true. But they’re true for a certain period of time, or a certain phase in your life, or a certain place or job or relationship you happen to be in. As time goes by, it’s a good idea to re-examine those assumptions and decisions.
You don’t have to challenge or tear down those assumptions. They’re there for a reason. They’ve kept you safe and got you this far. Being rebellious against your older self isn’t necessarily going to get you ahead. But you need to honestly examine those assumptions, hold them up against simple logic and the changing surrounding environment and see if they still hold up or not.
My assumptions that those are things that I probably will never learn didn’t really hold up to simple logic. I had the time. I had the means. I had the will.

Within a week, I had purchased a camera and I started French lessons using Duolingo.
Today, I’ve complete a one year streak of learning French. 10 minutes everyday for a full year.

Duolingo Streak
One Year of French on Duolingo

I went on several camera tours and my skills are getting, somewhat, better. Check out this thread of pictures. Some of my favorites are below, and a time-lapse video I made.
Playing the piano still alludes me, but it’s closer than it’s ever been. Maybe this year.

Ahead of his peers
Ahead of his peers
Across
Across
Mini Cooper
Mini Cooper

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