The theme this week is Challenges and in truth, this could be the theme for many weeks because there is so much to learn from them. How do we react when we are faced with a challenge? Do we step into it, or do we try to avoid it? How do challenges make us feel about ourselves? Do we feel weak for when we don't step up to them, or guilty? Do we hurt for not meeting them? Do we feel a need to prove something or pride at accomplishment? There is nothing right or wrong about anything that might arise from interactions with them, but in reflecting we can learn something about ourselves and therefore the way that we interact with others when we are in the midst of a challenging situation. In short, reflection can liberate us to move past the challenge of challenges.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating things that I find about challenges is that—I would guess—the majority of them are unseen and unknown until they have passed. Life is not a video game. And unlike neat movie story lines, we may not ever be privy to their existence at all. Perhaps it's not until late in life (if ever) that we realize a habit we've carried for years, given to us in childhood has been the source of heartache. Or perhaps a loved one or colleague is struggling with a problem that is indirectly passing along waves of stress to us. Maybe we learn differently, or are living in a culture foreign from our own, or our schedules leave us tired at unfortunate times of the day. There are so many things that create hidden challenges, and that in itself is a challenge, one that we can't even really face.
Perhaps the first step is to try our best to identify what things are creating difficulty in our lives. If we know what they are, we can work with them. But in lieu of knowing their names and circumstances, we can be gentle with ourselves, without losing some persistence.
(And if you are a parent, read this both for you and with your child in mind...)
10 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Music Practice offers a short list of potential issues that might be secretly plaguing you our your child in practice and how to easily remedy them. In the article is a bonus video from cellist David Finkel about how he optimizes his practice space to allow him to easily start and continue practicing without distractions.
Jacqueline du Pré playing Elgar Cello Concerto Famously met with numerous challenges in her short life, not least of all multiple sclerosis, Jacqueline de Pré still lives as an inspiration to cellists for generations to come for her passion and musicality. Here she plays the piece for which she was perhaps most well-known.