Think back to January of 2007. Does anything you were doing stick out in your head? Did you stop to smell a flower, take a whiff of fresh-baked bread, laugh with a toddler, listen to music in the metro or in the park? Were you teaching or were you learning? And furthermore are you asking yourself, “Why the heck is she asking me about 2007?” Quite simply…awe and envy. One of the beauties of technology is that as quickly as I can one-finger peck my keyboard, I can access anything I have saved to my hard drive for the last decade. The awe and envy is from a single incident of non-accidental random music.
Random Tangent: Thank goodness the memory capacity for technology keeps growing at rocket pace, or someday I may have to figure out how to delete doubles, organize “stuff” into folders or God forbid purge things I’m not even sure how to find, but for now all is safely tera-bitten and floating somewhere in the clouds. Or is that just, cloud?
I’ve read a few different articles and opinions on the urban yet oh-so-true legend of Joshua Bell playing an unrealistically intricate piece of music in a Metro station in DC. Oh yeah, by the way, his instrument…a $3.5 million dollar Strad which had been hand carved to perfection with love, patience and a humongous dose of soul centuries earlier. (How’s that for artisan dignity we just don’t see any more?!) I’ve watched the video of this event umpteen times, and each time I think to myself…how in the hell did more people not notice this dude? Then I think…would I have been living truthfully in my body enough to be pulled into his sublime world of art and beauty OR would I have been too fill-in-the-blank to notice? I’m filled with envy not only at the chance to have witnessed Bell’s musical genius in rapturous pleasure with Chaconne, but also to have had the chance to put my own soul-directed life principles to the test. Practice what I preach, know what I mean? Hmm…I wonder.
Whether if it’s for my movement classes or for a workshop on cultivating a sensually soul-directed life, there are obvious umpteen lessons I could riff on from this Metro experiment and the debates therein. But for today, the below excerpt describing a thought by Bell that morning hit home for me as a gorgeously honest question for any artist, healer, teacher. It demands a look into why we are often more able to give fully and authentically when we charge for it. Stay with me. Here goes:
“When you play for ticket-holders,” Bell explains, “you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I’m already accepted. Here, there was this thought: What if they don’t like me? What if they resent my presence . . .”
Wow. And that coming from a true master, known and respected world-wide, who literally plays for kings and heads of state, and whose name is often breathed in the same sentence as ‘genius’. Good stuff, that gives a little dose of healthy perspective for the rest of us. And here’s where I went with it. I know for me, guiding a free first class or introductory series is always more nerve-wracking than the first day of a paid-in-advance series. It’s exactly what he said, but different. I build it up as this is my one shot to transform someone. My one shot to express why I’m so deeply passionate about my work. And at Bell’s $1,000 per minute rate we obviously differ on this one, it feels like my one shot to not completely blow it because they may never come back and then how do I pay my bills? Anyone out there ever have any of those ridiculously unnecessary fears?
Random Tangent No. 2: I was told long ago by someone wise enough to know better than to live in the ugly place, that FEAR meant: False Expectations Appearing Real. Love that. Use it.
The reality is, when I teach I am simply sharing my truth with someone searching for theirs, and we may or may not be a match. Out of my control. It’s that simple. And at the end of the day, my honest truth just wants everyone on a path of transformation of some kind. So what I can control is being OKAY with charging for my time and wisdom, knowing that I’m earning what I’m worth, and simultaneously I’m encouraging students to step up and invest in themselves as well. You did. I did. Joshua did. Time, money, heart and many soul excavating hours of cathartic introspection later, my passion became my calling. That’s worth something. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching for free when it’s appropriate, that’s just good karma. And I still know that at the beginning of each and every first class (whether free or not) my heart will race, my cheeks will flush and I’ll need to breathe deeply into the huge-ness of the moment, because I realize I am in the position to shed light into someone’s darkness. That’s a humble miracle, and the rational fear is that it should never be taken lightly. Healthy jitters are the soul’s way of saying ‘stay present’. As we continually work to become more clear, we continually realize that it’s work. And we’re worth it. So for today, know that beauty speaks its own language when we are being of service through our work. Know that healthy fear reminds us to seize the brilliance of every moment. And know it’s more than okay to let your bills get paid as long as your soul is leading the way. Ubuntu.
If you have a wee bit of time and love a philosophical puzzle as much as I do…read further, dive into your soul and explore this article link. It’s a relevantly beautiful discussion about this Metro incident and thoughts on culture, beauty & the modern world. Maybe put on some Bach first, pour a cup of tea, and inspire a deep breath. Enjoy.
Not-so Random Tangent No. 3: I love this quote, it’s so very Sense[u]al Soul Whispering: Interview magazine once said Joshua Bell’s playing “does nothing less than tell human beings why they bother to live.”
See for yourself…here’s the video of that January 2007 morning. Like I said…total envy. Stop and Hear The Music.