Just to drive the point home. Again.
Just to drive the point home. Again.
This thought came to me one day, when I was contemplating about my relationship with perfection. How it is my motivation and yet my bane. How it brings me so much pleasure yet suffering.
And I thought: Maybe this is simply the way life is. All we will ever have are glimpses of perfection. To expect Perfection to be a constant state would be the same as a person wanting to live forever. It simply does not happen that way. The roller coaster of Life simply does not function according to such laws.
So yes, all we might ever have, even after endless striving, may just be glimpses of perfection. But knowing that that is ok, that it is normal, might be just the key to contentment and peace within.
This year, I celebrate my identity as a non-teacher.
On the Wednesday of the last week of August, as schools around the island closed for half a day to celebrate and honour their teachers, I reflected on my identity of not being one.
I looked at instagram posts by ex-colleagues and friends, sharing their proud moments, their pile of letters and gifts from students, being award titles like “Most Caring” or “Most Inspiring”. I looked at them and I felt a little tug. I could have been one of them. I WAS one of them.
What was that tug? Jealousy? Nostalgia? The longing for something you think you might like but know that you would not want it so much once you have got your hands on it?
Maybe a mixture of all of the above.
As I contemplated my mixed feelings on a day I had always had mixed feelings about (because I was never fully secure in my identity as a teacher), I also contemplated on the person I am now.
I thought about the decision I made to leave a particular system, though I realise now that leaving the system does not necessarily mean leaving the identity completely. So many aspects of who I am now and what I do as a music therapist still manifest from the teacher in me, just in a different context and in a different industry, with different goals and intentions.
And as I told a comrade, “the institution we left has its own system of rewards to get us to do what they want. Because we have opted out of that system, it means that we may not get those rewards, but it also means we are spared from the confines of that system.”
And that is certainly something to celebrate. Because freedom to be who you are and to relate to your authentic personality in what you do is something priceless. Certainly not something you can measure in gifts and awards and letters, no matter how heartfelt and touching and affirming they are.
That said, I was very touched by the call from 2 ex-students. It’s always nice to be remembered.
So… on a day when I would have celebrated (or tried to celebrate) my identity as a teacher, I instead contemplated on who I am, who I want to be. And relished in the freedom of being able to do so.
2 words: Stop. It.
It was not the dazzling show of virtuosity, or the lightning-speed passages which captivated my physically tired self on a Friday evening.
It was the second movement of Mendelssohn’s First Piano Concerto which had me feeling most moved, most emotionally engaged, and most present.
It was when I heard and saw the notes from the piano emerge – featherlight tones, their sound ringing out to reach the deepest recesses of the concert hall. They carried with them emotion, multitudes of subtlety within their frequencies. And I felt my inner world move with them, sighing with them, feeling more anchored with them than with the booming bass and dazzling melodies of the opening movement.
And I found myself thinking about how rare it has become for our world to appreciate and embrace such tenderness. Which is probably why we need music (and art) like that to remind us. To remind us of the beauty and necessity of tenderness.
What can we do to cherish more of such tenderness?
What can we do so that being soft-spoken and non-assertive are not seen as negative, weak traits, but part of a larger, beautiful and accepted self?
Perhaps, as with most changes we want to see, it’d have to begin with ourselves.
2 days late, but I was writing in my journal on the 1st of August and came up with a few things that July has taught me, and thought this main one to be blog-worthy.
The lesson on The Struggle and The Emerging… and the Going Back Again.
Yes, struggles like these are probably never going to completely go away. We find periods in our lives where we seem to be sinking into them uncontrollably, and by some stroke of luck and seeming effort, emerge from them thinking ourselves to be stronger than before, only to be immersed in the struggle again, once something else happens.
I’m referring to the struggle with self-doubt, of course.
And if there’s one thing July taught me, it’s that this struggle is truly necessary for reflection and growth. In fact, I should be worried if I don’t feel any struggle and am completely comfortable. Because it’d mean that I’m not pushing myself, that I’m not being stretched, that I’m not growing. In work or in my personal development.
The fact that I see my struggles as negative when they occur does not mean that they truly are. Just like we hate the bitter medication we have to take when prescribed, but when we’re well we look back and see how we couldn’t have gotten better without enduring and going through the medication process. Something like that.
The going through of the struggle also showed me how much I want to continue to do what I do, IN SPITE of the difficulties. It did not trigger in me feelings or thoughts of wanting to quit, or give up, or just let things be. It triggered in me the persistence to think of new ideas, to infuse new life into my approaches and interventions, and to put in more efforts to make the necessary connections and to develop the confidence I need to speak about what I do. The struggle did all that. And I am thankful.
I’m sure the next wave of self-doubt will come soon enough – there seems to be no lack of that in our world. Let’s hope that I’ll remember this lesson, on the value of a good struggle.
From Death in The Book Thief.
Because humans, and the being human, may always a conundrum that even the powerful Death cannot figure out.