Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The beauty of learning to live under constraints

Lately I've been thinking a lot about thriving in different situations.

I'm a free spirit and I like to do things in my time, my way. But as I look back at my life, I've seen beauty in obedience and living under constraints. This isn't always popular in Western culture,
so let me explain: when I first began playing the violin as a kindergartner, my bow arm would fly here and there as I learned to fiddle and "Bile Them Cabbage Down." I thought I excelled until my teacher said I needed to start playing the violin in a corner, with both elbows against the wall where they couldn't be free.

Fiddling in a corner, is not the best thing ever. I played like that for months, even when I
practiced for hours each day at home. Slowly though, I learned to move my right arm fluidly, so the bow would stay on the "string highway." My left arm gained proper form too; the violin's sound even seemed to change.

One day, my teacher smiled during my lesson and said, "Elisa, your elbow didn't smack the wall at all! You're playing perfectly!"

"Really?" I stepped from the corner and played. At that moment, the sound emanating from my fiddle, completely captivated my soul. My violin became an extension of myself. The sheer power and volume, the rich sound ... the way the very notes cried out or sang with joy, all because I'd learned to perfect small things while living under constraints.

It seems Americans so value individuality and unique endeavors; that's beautiful, but there's also something to be said for obedience and understanding the basics so we can build on foundational knowledge. Maybe this is a moment for some of us to focus on the small things so we can excel with complexities.

This photo was taken at a gig I played in Park City 
with Ryan Kirkpatrick and Johnny A. Hickman (of the country band Cracker).

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