I was listening to one of my favorite composers this morning, J.S.Bach and it was a profound moment of revelation for me. I found myself weeping as they played the first movement of this amazing piece; I am often enraptured by the music of the Baroque era. The complexity of otherworldly polyphony, with each individual skilled musician playing their own unique part of a greater, magnificent whole is exhilarating!
You see, I am a violinist of sorts. I began playing in the 5th grade, and other than a hiatus here and there I have played ever since. I have a certain level of skill, just from picking it up and beating it into submission as much as I have, but my problem was never passion.
Today I saw clearly what I was lacking, what separates me from the truly accomplished musician.
A few weeks ago I was thinking about a specific technique that I struggle with and I went to the magical world of YouTube to gain some understanding. I am speaking of vibrato, it is the movement of the hand and wrist that brings notes to life! With a properly executed vibrato you can draw emotion and drama from a piece that would be severely lacking without its effect. As I studied the many lessons offered, I became aware that because of something entirely different I was doing, it pretty much made correct vibrato technique impossible.
The problem is that I have a propensity to grab the violin with my left hand and hold it in a clamp-like death grip. In doing this, I give myself other problems that I cannot correct. With my unwillingness to pay due attention to the basics, I limited my abilities as I progressed. Look, I am 56 years old and I will never be able to, due to my diminishing attention span and desire, change what has been ingrained over decades. That would require I basically go back to the beginning and re-learn the violin. Not happening. But it drew my mind to the truth this illustrates.
A well-built foundation is the difficult and unseen work we do that supports our visible efforts. Without doing this, we are limited in what we can accomplish later.
I long ago accepted that the vision I once held in my mind to be a professional musician and play in a symphony orchestra wasn’t going to come to pass. I am at peace with that. I knew my dedication to the craft wasn’t made of the sort needed to achieve such a goal. However, that seemed to be symptomatic of everything I have put my hand to.
THAT, is what is hard to accept. There are reasons I was handicapped from the start and I won’t allude to those again here because that is not the point I want to get across. I just want to say that if we are truly passionate about something we will do whatever is required to see it through. We must do this from the ground up, our foundation matters more than anything else.
Let’s go all spiritual then shall we?
Luke 6:48-49Living Bible (TLB)
47-48 But all those who come and listen and obey me are like a man who builds a house on a strong foundation laid upon the underlying rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm, for it is strongly built.
49 “But those who listen and don’t obey are like a man who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it crumbles into a heap of ruins.”
I have been the foolish man, unwilling to do the hard work to ensure long-term stability. But hey, it’s never to late to learn right? For the violin, that ship has sailed, but certainly there are many other important areas I can still apply this truth. I guess that today I just laid a good, solid cornerstone to my new foundation!