Off the Shelf
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Old Talents

One of the things that I have learnt

Ever since I have embarked on this long, long journey

Is that with endless responsibilities

Comes the increasing importance of prioritizing and letting go

What matters most

And what matters less

Always in some sort of dynamic balance between

Marching towards a tangible goal and

Melting down in a binary world of studying and not.


Twelve years, sounds like a long time

So many years of devotion

Dedicated at that hard, ivory bench

Burning hours and grinding out my patience to achieve dexterity

The melodic charms that sound so effortless

(after all, what is art other than to make a monumental task appear easy?)

Like the ease of water flowing with gravity


Now, what’s left is the

Laughable muscle memory

An aching reminder of

What once was


(now no longer)


Because what came first is my devotion to medicine

My suit is that of a white coat

And not that of a pianist’s gown

And because I have little talent in placing honor to the hefty names of Chopin and Mozart

And because I have fallen deeply in love and married the life with medicine

I have given up that fluidity and grace that coursed through my nerves like another natural product of my physiology

In place of hours spent in front of a majestic instrument of melody

I have traded for sitting in front of books of mechanisms and pathways

In place of recitals and concerts in competition of musical interpretation

I have traded for hours spent in the anatomy laboratory tugging on nerve-strings rather than the heart-strings of a captivated audience

For the most part, my affair with my piano has become a chapter of the past


But sometimes, I steal away to a lonesome Yamaha when no one is looking

And laugh at my own incompetence

As I fumble through the phrases only my mind still hears perfectly

Now crudely executed by my silly, foreign fingers

Like little people that had fallen asleep and gone numb

And it is in these moments that I miss the luxury

Of time that I had to indulge in such secrete passions.

Nita Chen Nita Chen (32 Posts)

Medical Student Editor and in-Training Staff Member

Albany Medical College

Nita Chen is a Class of 2017 medical student at Albany Medical College. To become cultural, she spent her early educational years in Taiwan and thoroughly enjoyed wonderful Taiwanese food and milk tea, thus ruining her appetite for the rest of her life in the United States. Aside from her neuroscience and cognitive science majors during her undergraduate career, she holed herself up in her room writing silly fictional stories, doodling, and playing the piano. Or she could be found spazzing out like a gigantic science nerd in various laboratories. Now she just holes up in her room to study most of the time.

  • Juzo 55

    “My suit is that of a white coat

    And not that of a pianist’s gown”.

    That, is really beautifully put.

    • Nita Chen

      Thank you!