I met a girl
My childhood and adolescence were a joyous outpouring of energy, a ceaseless quest for expression, skill, and experience. School was only a background to the supreme delight of lessons in music, dance, and dramatics, and the thrill of sojourns in the country, theaters, concerts.
And books, big Braille books that came with me on streetcars, to the table, and to bed. Then one night at a high school dance, a remark, not intended for my ears, stabbed my youthful bliss: “That girl, what a pity she is blind.” Blind! That ugly word that implied everything dark, blank, rigid, and helpless. Quickly I turned and called out, Please don’t feel sorry for me, I’m having lots of fun. But the fun was not to last.
With the advent of college, I was brought to grips with the problem of earning a living. Part-time teaching of piano and harmony and, upon graduation, occasional concerts and lectures, proved only partial sources of livelihood. In terms of time and effort involved, the financial remuneration was disheartening. This induced within me searing self-doubt and dark moods of despondency. Adding to my dismal sense of inadequacy was the repeated experience of seeing my sisters and friends go off to exciting dates. How grateful I was for my piano, where—through Chopin, Brahms, and Beethoven—I could mingle my longing and seething energy with theirs. And where I could dissolve my frustration in the beauty and grandeur of their conceptions.
Then one day, I met a girl, a wonderful girl, an army nurse, whose faith and stability were to change my whole life. As our acquaintance ripened into friendship, she discerned, behind a shell of gaiety, my recurring plateaus of depression. She said, “Stop knocking on closed doors. Keep up your beautiful music. I know your opportunity will come. You’re trying too hard. Why don’t you relax, and have you ever tried praying?”
The idea was strange to me. It sounded too simple. Somehow, I had always operated on the premise that, if you wanted something in this world, you had to go out and get it for yourself. Yet, sincerity and hard work had yielded only meager returns, and I was willing to try anything. Experimentally, self-consciously, I cultivated the daily practice of prayer. I said: God, show me the purpose for which You sent me to this world. Help me to be of use to myself and to humanity.