One year ago today I started Musical Me.
It was a Monday, a normal day off for me, and I remember sitting on the couch pining over the loss of our cat Mischka, which had occurred just over a week before. I was also bored, and trying to come up with something to write about. In a true flash of inspiration that I cannot explain, a moment of exceptional clarity the likes of which I’ve experienced only once before in my life, it occurred to me that I should begin playing the violin again, and I should start writing a blog about my musical journey.
Theoretically, I always half-wished I hadn’t stopped playing the violin 25 years prior, but I’m not a creature of regrets, and until that Monday I had not given any serious thought to taking it back up. Was this just nostalgia or was it something I really wanted to do? And then there was the writing – the one rule of writing that most anyone can cite is “write what you know.” Was I actually deciding to write a blog about music, a topic about which I have more ignorance than virtually any other?
I found a teacher, rented a violin, and embraced a new rhythm for my life – I get up, I write, I eat breakfast, I practice. I came into a family instrument, graduated from Suzuki Book One, and have sought out performances of others. I’ve read books and I’m playing with accompaniment. I’ve made all the progress I could possibly have hoped for as it pertains to this endeavor – on top of all that I’m having so much fun.
And my life has been enriched. Truly, deeply, wonderfully, profoundly enriched. How often after childhood do we take on new passions? This one came along at just the right time for me – I have found not only a pressure valve for my daily grind, but also a pursuit that allows me to grow both intellectually and artistically. I do not think I can point to another year of my life during which I learned so much.
I don’t claim heroes – we are messy humans all – but as I’ve charted this new musical path I look to two men, Shinichi Suzuki and Albert Einstein, as a motley duo of inspiration. In their own ways, they were two of humanity’s greatest figures – the two were friends, and the two were passionate violinists. Each, driven by singular brilliance and vision, revolutionized his field. Einstein fundamentally changed humanity’s understanding of the universe with his introduction of general relativity, while taking frequent breaks to play the violin. Suzuki helped music come out of the rafters; he fought for music education for all people, knowing music to be a path to personal fulfillment and to the development of good moral character and a healthy intellect. Both men demonstrated with their own lives that pursuing a productive passion, regardless of what the passion is, makes us stronger. Their lives, for me, illustrate what humans can become when the universe flings us into the right mix of cosmic stuff.
I’ll end this tribute to my first year as I ended my review of Suzuki’s seminal work, “Nurtured by Love,” with Suzuki’s own translated words, “People who are optimistic, happy, and cheerful, even though they are only so on the surface, being always conscious of the ephemerality of life and how infinitesimal their existence must seem in relation to the universe – when people like that are asked what life really means, they must answer with Mozart: ‘I live in the love of everyone. Only this life is worth living.’”
Thanks for reading.