Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fear Not, I Am with You. Oh, Be Not Dismayed.

the weather here has become more spring-like, though it's still officially winter.  we'll probably have a few more cold days, but the jonquils are blooming and many of the trees are budding out.  right now as i look through my windows, i can see the beautiful red of the emerging leaves on the large maple in my neighbor's yard.  one of the benefits of the warming weather is that i can once again ride my bike in the park behind my house.

a couple of days ago as i was riding, i began to think of how much of my life has been lived in fear, and it suddenly occurred to me that i'm not fearful any more.  when i was younger, i spent sleepless nights worrying about whether something i had said offended or hurt another.  i worried about money.  i worried about my job.  i worried about the state of the world.  i searched for things to worry about. 

when i played my instrument, i worried about making mistakes.  i pulled back and avoided challenging music.  i worried about what people would think if i made a mistake in my playing.  i made copious markings in my music to avoid mistakes.  i worried about what people would think if i took a certain course of action.  i allowed fear of what others would think to limit my capacity for joy and growth.

several years ago, i attended a music workshop, and the clinician said something like, "when you sit down to play, ask yourself  'what's the worst thing that could happen if you completely botch this piece?'  will the world come to an end?  will those you love die?  will you be stricken with a terrible disease?  it's only a piece of music that takes place in this moment, and then it's gone.  so, you mess up.  big deal!"  what a life-changing moment that was for me.  i suddenly realized that the fate of the world didn't depend on my playing a piece of music perfectly.  i was free of the fear of playing less than perfectly.  there was joy to be found in the music, not fear.  why had i deprived myself of that joy for so long!

this has become my attitude toward life.  i hardly ever worry any more.  i haven't had a sleepless night in years.  if only i knew then, what i know now.  the saying that "youth is wasted on the young" has a great deal of merit, but it takes a lot of living to reach the point where one enjoys the luxury of becoming older and perhaps wiser.

my prayer this morning is that each of us can live fearlessly, looking for the joy in life rather than cautiously creeping through life trying to avoid all the pitfalls.  let's make mistakes, learn from them, and move on.  let's take chances and celebrate the great and small victories that come from living as fully as we can.  we won't ever recapture this moment!

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