I had my third cello lesson this week. Oh, my. Let me tell you, there has been no other instance in my adult life in which I have felt so dumb. Having taught piano for 21 years seems to help me very little with this instrument. It helps me read the music, but that’s about it.
To make music on the piano, you touch the keys. To make music on the cello requires thinking of about 250 different things at the same time, and apparently, even then, it may sound like a tortured bovine.
The first week of practice, I may have apologized to my family a thousand times, and truly, I almost quit for their sake alone.
The second week, I got to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in some variations and sometimes it sounded like a real song. My hope was renewed. I brought this and page after page of brilliance back to my teacher who said I was doing very well and that this week we were going to concentrate on how I played the notes.
Wait…what? Didn’t you hear how many pages I got done this week?
Who cares if I’m using the bow like a handsaw! My D scale actually sounded like eight real notes!
I don’t think she cared.
She wants me to focus on each bow stroke; how much of the bow I use for each note, how lightly I use the bow to produce a good tone, to keep my elbow and wrist loose and “flowy”. This in addition to everything else. I can’t just saw my way through a million little songs. Sigh.
Christian and I were talking about this very concept this week upon his return from Europe. Every time he has been there, he has been struck by one glaring truth. Europe produces quality. America produces quantity.
In Europe, you buy handmade pastries and bread and fresh fruits and vegetables every morning. You don’t go to Walmart and stock up on supplies for the week.
When you dine out in Europe, it is expected that the meal should take hours. I mean, maybe 4 hours. Waitstaff does not earn money based on tips so there is not the need to turn so many tables in a night and no one is in a hurry. Each bite of the food is tasted and enjoyed for pleasure.
Buildings there date back closer to the fall of the Roman empire than to current date and have the beauty to prove it. Old buildings here are torn down rather than restored, and then, ironically, a new one is built to look just like the first.
Here, we mass-produce and massively consume. What has it gained us? That answer should be obvious.
The other day was senior day at my local grocery store. I chuckled and thought of my grandparents as I inhaled the smell of mothballs. That, and some browsing in some antique stores this week reminded me of some of my grandparents’ way of thinking.
When one bought clothing, you bought few items, but they were good quality and you took care of them so they would last. My grandpa, bless his heart, always smelled of mothballs when he pulled his best suit out. Wonder how long he kept that thing.
When one bought furniture, it was solidly built and you’d better like it because you were gonna slipcover that stuff from now til eternity to make it last. My grandma, bless her heart, had practically the entire living room covered in plastic. Floor runners ran in mazes covering every path you might walk, plastic or flowery slipcovers adorned the “sofa”, and the original plastic covered the lampshades so they never got dusty.
Now, we buy cheap products, and when they’re ruined, we buy another.
I have been bemoaning the arrival of fall. I’m such a summer girl, through and through, that most times all that fall feels like to me is a precursor to the season I dread. Sock-sweater-huddle-around-the-fire-to-keep-warm-season. No-basking-in-the-sun-season. “Can’t-I-just-feel-warm”-season.
As I was driving down the road I rolled my eyes at the leaves that were beginning their metamorphosis, and I knew the voice of my God as He said to me, “Look around you! Isn’t it beautiful? I made it just for you.”
Humbled, I smiled. “It is beyond beautiful. You made this just for me.”
“I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me.
I should never have opened my mouth!
I’ve talked too much, way too much.
I’m ready to shut up and listen.” Job 40:3-5
If I take a minute to look–to really see–instead of always thinking about the next thing. To slow down and look around and notice what I’ve been given. To taste and enjoy what I eat. To hear, or create a single, beautifully played note. To see the beauty and perfection in what’s been made just for me.
To hear the music, smell the roses, and live this day one note at a time…
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