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The sustain pedal on a piano. Pushing this pedal is difficult or impossible with a broken leg.

Meditations on Pushing a Creative Project Too Far

I admit it. My creative drive means sometimes pushing too far.

Story Re-cap

In case you missed it, I’m recovering from a broken leg. This means a lot of things have changed in my daily routine. Everything takes a bit longer on one leg. So far, I’m still crawling on my butt when I need to go up or down stairs. Pushing myself too much only leads to me feeling achy and tired.

I keep thinking about people who have to deal with being otherly-abled constantly. As you can imagine, I am getting used to some of the ways I need to adapt. Still, the challenges are apparent to me. And I have the hope that this is temporary while so many do not. This is deeply informing my compassionate self.

Creative Adaptation

The snowy scene witnessed through a glass door. This is how it was outside on a day similar to the one where I fell and broke my leg.

As I noted before, I find pushing down the sustain pedal on my piano very difficult right now. Though my doctor says that I can put some weight on the injured ankle, the boot feels very awkward and often hits the sostenuto pedal by accident.

So, I decided to use my limitation as part of my creative process. I improvised ten times on the piano without any sustain pedal. I thought that several sections in these improvisations seemed very awkward. The sustain pedal is part of what colors piano performances in the ways we expect to hear.

Keep Pushing

That’s when I started pushing. Rather than let the vulnerability of those improvisations be okay, I started messing with them. I replaced the piano with celeste, synthesizers, and other instruments. I was intrigued by the process. But each time I listened, I was not pleased.

At some point, I realized that the best thing I could do was go back and listen to the bare piano renditions. Quickly, I discovered that this was where I could hear the beauty of these pieces. Though it still feels scary, if these tracks ever reach your ears, the primary sound will be that unsustained piano. (Currently, this work is still in process. I’ll be glad to share it here if/when I consider it “ready”.)

And that’s how I stopped pushing (for now).

Be sure to check out part 2. There, I’ve provided the sonic and maybe even some geeky details about the stuff I talked about above.

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