Coming into my own as a writer and a musician has put me on the right path for my life. It is a path I had strayed away from consistently over the years, getting caught up in other people’s worlds, forgetting to stay true to myself and my heart, wondering what it was I should do in order to be accepted…to fit into a box I told myself I didn’t want to fit into.
After trying to forcibly convince myself that the piano is my instrument because others told me it was, I finally answered the longing I felt for the cello…an instrument whose sound penetrates the deepest parts of my soul, not just in an auditory sense, but physically too, as the vibrations spread outward from its center and travel through my body, allowing me to connect to my instrument in a way like no other.
Mind you though, it is HARD. The cost of having such an intimate physical relationship with an instrument is the physical exertion required of you to play it. My struggle still is learning how to simultaneously relax and control my muscles.
And yet…I’ve grown so much, and my skills have definitely been refined thanks to an amazing teacher.
But still…I wasn’t prepared to be approached by a young woman who is looking for a female cellist to perform in a dance show.
My initial response to, “Are you a cellist?” is of course, yes. I AM a cellist, albeit a new one. But…a little over two years. Is that time enough for me to venture out into the performing world? While I wasn’t so hesitant to perform with a chamber ensemble only three months into learning, dipping my toes into the world of public shows…my first dubious question is, “Am I a cellist?” My confidence is not at a level I would want it to be, going out into this world. Can I really succeed? Am I any good, really? I have been performing on this instrument almost since the day I picked it up, but within the safety net and ultra-supportive communities of student recitals and Buddhist gatherings.
Now I already know the answer to this question of being ready: You never feel ready. You just have to dive in and do it. And of course, by doing so, that is how you truly learn and further develop your skill.
That’s all fine and dandy. It’s easy enough to say those words. But the hardest part of this answer is the courage you have to have to follow through. Confidence helps too, for sure. But it is courage that really helps you carry your challenge out. Courage and faith.
“The important thing is to take that first step. Bravely overcoming one small fear gives you the courage to take on the next.” Daisaku Ikeda
This dance company in particular has a mission that is so tremendous: teaching humanistic values through dance and working with underprivileged communities. As I was reading this company’s mission, I realized that, whether I perform in this show or not, this is what I want to do with my music. I don’t want to write music, not yet at least, or release a bestselling album with innovative cello music, or become rich and famous. What I want to do with my cello is pierce the current dark state of humanity with the light of music. Through this seemingly happenstance occurrence of a young woman approaching me in the train station as I was leaving a rehearsal, my eyes were opened. I am not only being presented with a challenge and opportunity to develop my skills, but I was provided a reminder and clarity about my mission with this profound instrument. As I wrote before, I am, sometimes painfully, expiating a lot of karma with my cello. But it’s all for good reason.
“If you summon your courage to challenge something, you’ll never be left with regret. How sad it is to spend your life wishing, ‘If only I’d had a little more courage.’ Whatever the outcome may be, the important thing is to step forward on the path that you believe is right.'” Daisaku Ikeda
The universe truly does have a way of providing you exactly what you need when you need it. It’s up to you, though, to bring forth the courage to pursue those opportunities, and climb to even greater heights.