In this deeply personal post, I’m sharing how I’m currently exploring my resistance to practicing, which is a recurring lifelong theme that crops up from time to time to help me grow and move forward as an artist, person, and violinist.
Last week, I spent a great week in Cleveland performing with Apollo’s Fire, the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra.
It was an inspiring week, as we performed an all-Beethoven concert on original instruments with the son of my first Alexander Technique teacher (Erik Bendix), Noah Bendix-Balgley, who is now the Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic. He performed the Beethoven violin concerto, a piece that has always been very special to me.
As I watched and listened to Noah, I felt a deep heartache stirring within myself made of a strong desire to play that concerto again for myself. I began to look forward to fresh explorations of the piece when I got home, as I saw a world of new potential beckoning me.
But what happened when I returned? LIFE! Of course.
Life with its thousand and one things to DO on my lists, with my children needing this and that, and work requiring this and that.
In the end, more than a week has passed and I haven’t even touched my violin! Funny thing is…. the more time passes, the less I want to practice… and the more I resist it. Because I could always make a few moments if I really wanted to……right?
But…. yesterday, I stumbled upon an unexpected key to something important at an art fair – the violin pictured above. I didn’t really understand why, but this gorgeous work of art called to me silently and won my heart…. So I brought it home.
There’s something about this discarded and beautified violin that is poking at my soul again, reaching deep inside me through all those thousand and one obligations that seem to have nothing to do with the violin, bringing me back to my origins as a musician….back to my 2-year old self that started out on a “violin” made from half a coconut…..back to something so old that it surely lived inside the hearts of our ancestors…. maybe its music even goes back to the beginning of Time itself….who knows what it is and why it moves me so much.
This violin represents something so raw and deep and essential… it is the perfect symbol for a revival of my musical self on a deeper plane…. and it comes at a turning point in my life, when old things are falling away one by one and I find myself standing in the middle of Rumi’s “field”… “beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing”…. and HERE is where I meet myself.
This violin represents…
Past, present, and future
…and Infinite Potential.
I will hold this violin in my hands, in my arms, and I will BE with it.
I will wonder about my relationship with violin, music, art, and myself….
This violin’s music is Silence. It can only be played in the imagination, its sound heard only in the mind-heart-self.
Listening to myself and the reverberation of Life between me, violin, and everything else, I listen to what this relationship has to teach me. What does it sound like? What does this musical Silence sound like?
Silence is the origin of Music, and it is found in the Heart of all things….
I will spend some time opening myself up to this…. to a Question that doesn’t require an answer… possibly doesn’t have one, and maybe has many.
I have discovered many times that opening up to life’s Question like this is enough. Asking is enough. And then…. the actions that might arise spontaneously are always the best ones for the moment.
What is best for me right now?
To practice or to not practice?
In fact, I don’t really care about that question….that’s not the question I’m asking….that’s not the question that matters.
I care about the bigger Question.
It’s a wordless Question with a hidden melody…. a Sweet Melody that lives within this beautiful violin and within my heart and within yours.
Remembering this open Question full of Life’s Wonder brings me peace, and I know that this way is my way for now.
And this is enough.