The Cookie Thief: A Poem About How Oblivious We Can Be to How Wrong We Can Be
By Noa Kageyama, Ph.D.
The Cookie Thief
by Valerie Cox
A woman was waiting at an airport one night, with several long hours before her flight. She hunted for a book in the airport shops, bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.
She was engrossed in her book but happened to see, that the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be. . .grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between, which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.
So she munched the cookies and watched the clock, as the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock. She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by, thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye.”
With each cookie she took, he took one too, when only one was left, she wondered what he would do. With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh, he took the last cookie and broke it in half.
He offered her half, as he ate the other, she snatched it from him and thought… oooh, brother. This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude, why he didn’t even show any gratitude!
She had never known when she had been so galled, and sighed with relief when her flight was called. She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate, refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.
She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat, then she sought her book, which was almost complete. As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise, there was her bag of cookies, in front of her eyes.
If mine are here, she moaned in despair, the others were his, and he tried to share. Too late to apologize, she realized with grief, that she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.
How often have you be absolutely convinced of something, only to find out later that you were mistaken?
Perhaps you were certain you put your keys on the dining table, but found them in your pants pocket. Or you were convinced you failed an exam, but ended up getting a B.
Most of us have a tendency to err on the side of pessimism, justifying this by claiming it is more “realistic” and saying that we don’t want to get our hopes up and be disappointed. Unfortunately, we don’t really do ourselves any favors by doing so. I mean, think about it, why would we want to bet against ourselves? Does being pessimistic make us more determined, persistent, focused, poised under pressure, enthusiastic, resilient, and lead to more dynamic performances? Yeah…not so much.
We Suck at Predicting the Future
Besides, when it comes to the future, we tend to be pretty crappy at predicting it. Who thought Duke would be going up against Butler in the NCAA finals? How many people thought Arnold Schwarzenegger would one day be governor of California?
Former NASA astronaut John Glenn (the first American to orbit the Earth), once said (and I paraphrase) that he got into the habit of asking himself the question “Why not?”, explaining that because none of us really know what’s possible, why not open our minds to the possibility that we might be capable of something wildly awesome?
Could you be an international YouTube sensation? Why not?
Could you start your own record label? Why not?
Could you win a job with the Berlin Philharmonic? Why not?
Key to Success
One of the most consistent findings in the sport psychology literature is the connection between self-confidence and success. I would imagine that this is because self-confident individuals tend to be awfully persistent. How persistent, how self-confident are you likely to be if you are pessimistic about the possibilities available to you?
Moral of the story — don’t jump to conclusions about what you believe is impossible for you…don’t be a cookie thief.
Performance psychologist and Juilliard alumnus & faculty member Noa Kageyama teaches musicians how to beat performance anxiety and play their best under pressure through live classes, coachings, and an online home-study course. Based in NYC, he is married to a terrific pianist, has two hilarious kids, and is a wee bit obsessed with technology and all things Apple.
After Countless Hours of Practice, Why Are Performances Still so Hit or Miss?
It’s not a talent issue. And that rush of adrenaline and emotional roller coaster you experience before performances is totally normal too.
Performing at the upper ranges of your ability under pressure is a unique skill – one that requires specific mental skills and a few tweaks in your approach to practicing. Elite athletes have been learning these techniques for decades; if nerves and self-doubt have been recurring obstacles in your performances, I’d like to help you do the same.
Click below to discover the 7 skills that are characteristic of top performers. Learn how you can develop these into strengths of your own. And begin to see tangible improvements in your playing that transfer to the stage.