Playing Your Music

Tonight I went to watch a friend perform the Sibelius Violin Concerto. It was a full house, and she was beyond fantastic. What struck me the most about her playing though wasn’t how clean all the notes were but how she was able to interpret the music. The movement that was patterned after a dance (3rd movement, a dance called Polonaise) actually sounded like a dance! She was able to inject the music with life, instead of playing the notes robotically. Or, as I always “translate” to my non-musician friends, it is as if she read a paragraph or a poem with the right pauses and mood, instead of reading in straight monotone.

And this brings up the issue of what is really the music? It is not the music score / sheet, but the actual sound that comes out. When I was a sophomore at conservatory, a friend and I used to joke that that is why they are called music notes – they are only notes to give you an idea of what the whole thing should sound like, but it is not everything. There are tons of things to add in between.

And this led me to wonder – what is really a life? We all live in between two “realms,” the physical and the spiritual. And what I’ve learned is that ultimately, it’s our spiritual life that defines who we really are. It’s not someone’s house, car, degrees, possessions, etc. that matters. They are just the “notes”, little things to help us see the bigger picture. What really matters is the spiritual – the things in between the “notes.” What matters is how you make people feel, and the light you bring into the world. It’s not about reading the notes 100% but emptily and robotically. It’s injecting life into every moment and making them worthwhile and specifically yours.

Speaking of light, it was recently Lag BaOmer, one of the minor Jewish holidays. explains: “It is traditional to light bonfires on Lag BaOmer eve. These commemorate the immense light that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai introduced into the world via his mystical teachings. This was especially true on the day of his passing, Lag BaOmer, when he revealed to his disciples secrets of the Torah whose profundity and intensity the world had yet to experience.”

I thought it was so beautiful, the idea that you brought in so much light to the world, you were bonfire. So let us not be content to be small lights, but big bonfires. And we can do that by not (completely) getting caught up with things that are only supposed to be our means to another end. At the end of the day, it’s not about having this or that career or job or house or car. It’s bring in light to whatever situation you are currently in.

As Mrs. Allan from L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Avonlea said, “…We make our own lives wherever we are, after all. They are broad or narrow according to what we put into them, not that we get out. Life is rich and full here … Everywhere … If we can only learn how to open our whole hearts to its richness and fullness.”

It’s not about your specific circumstances, but how you treat them and use them to bring in light. It’s not the physical music notes, but the spiritual aspect and how you interpret things and play your music.

To read more about Lag BaOmer, here is the full article:


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