OTE: #020 was made for listening :). Please find it here:
It was arguably one of the best concerts I've ever attended. A semi-circle of musicians brought us seven songs with a number of impromptu solos. It was beautiful.
This group of nervous but confident fifth graders found themselves in a dark, windowless room with excited and proud parents. I arrived curious but excited, and if I’m honest, I left a little bit wiser. Here are some of my takeaways.
“We must be silent before we start,” said the teacher in a gentle but non-negotiable manner.
In the world of fidgety tweens, there is utility in requiring stillness and silence. But it was clear this teacher was sharing something more profound, and it was no accident. These brave girls and boys were practicing one of the secrets of a peaceful life.
Ryan Holiday in Stillness is the Key:
“We must cultivate mental stillness to succeed in life and to successfully navigate the many crises it throws our way.”
Or from James Allen in his 1903 pamphlet
“Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power.”
My takeaway: Stop. Focus. Be still. You got this.
Be Brave. We Are All A Work In Progress
The skills ranged from barely keeping up to a boy five feet away that would share the results of his YouTube binging - Bach’s Prelude
If you don’t recognize the name, like me, you will recognize this classic.
You can listen to a beautiful version here.
Up next, a thin violinist across the room stood up and said, “I’ve been working on this. It’s Pirates of the Caribbean.” Finally, something I knew, and I wasn’t alone as other parents smiled a bit more confidently now.
He started, and six seconds in, he missed a few notes. He stopped, shrugged, smiled, and confidently said:
“It’s a work in progress,” and then he sat down.
What he was really saying was: I’m learning. This is the best I have right now. I’ll get better. Please bear with me, and I’m not scared. Thank you for being supportive.
No shame. No embarrassment. Just facts. What if we could all approach things in life that way. Explore, stumble, learn, and grow.
Do we make room in our heads for that? Do we create spaces where others can be free to try new things without embarrassment? Or are we too afraid of failure, real or perceived, to try something new?
Let’s not let pride, fear, or social comparison keep us from the joy of experiencing something new.
My takeaway: New things are worth it. Be brave. We are all a work in progress.
Take a moment to digest
At the end of each song, we would clap. Whether the group or a soloist, the musicians would try to sit down quickly. But the teacher would make them stand back up and take in the applause. It was all very intentional.
Maybe that’s something we each need to do more of? Take in applause? Or maybe just take it all in. Digest the good that is right in front of us. Not the perfect, but the good.
My takeaway: Can I have the discipline to slow down and enjoy the moments?
From Neil Gaiman in Make Good Art:
“..let go and enjoy the ride, because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places.”
It’s Better, Together
There was a moment when I looked across the room, and the bows were all moving in unison. The sound was incredible, and I had another overwhelming feeling of awe. Maybe it was because my son was playing, or perhaps because I had never picked up a violin and had no idea how they were doing it.
I think it was because they were together, and they were truly together. The notes were lining up, and it was magic.
My takeaway: It is better together.
Make Things Art You
Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry about what people think, especially that person in the mirror. Make things. Do it alone or do it with friends but whatever you do, do it.
And as it relates to art, that’s what you decide. Do that for yourself, no one else, and enjoy it.
I’ll leave you with this, again from Neil Gaiman:
And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.
Take are out there.