My biggest regret about my life is that I didn’t continue practicing piano. In 1982 I started typing instead, and that was that. Now I’m writing a piano concerto, and it would be energizing to imagine myself playing it with an orchestra someday – but that’s not going to happen. When I was 19, playing Chopin polonaises and Brahms rhapsodies along with my Wolpe and Rochberg, it would have seemed a possibility.
My other big regret is how seldom my intensely busy life allows me to see my close friends, who are scattered out from Alaska to Germany. A related regret is the difficulty of even keeping in sufficient touch by e-mail. The longest, most meaningful, most searching e-mails are the hardest ones to find time and mental space to answer. The succinct e-mails that require no reflection have a split-second turnaround time:
“Did you ever find a punching score for Nancarrow Study 13?”
The e-mails that deserve a long, thoughtful response, not only from close friends but from strangers with strong mutual interests, pop up as I’ve just finished editing a recording and have to dash to the post office before it closes, and I make a mental note as I’m off to a concert, and I don’t get back to them that night while fifty more e-mails come in, and they start drifting down my e-mail box, and someday I have an hour to spare and I go searching for the e-mails I most wanted to answer. I imagine it’s the same for us all – the messages most deserving of a response hang in the ethernet as unanswered questions. The feeling of muted, unfulfilled, but tangible connectedness that remains, which the internet does much to reinforce (even if it also heightens our awareness of the facile negativity that flows around the world), will have to be sufficient consolation.