Now and Ahead: The Wisdom of Music
Music is a work of art – a painting on the canvas of time. Learning to read and play a piece of music means learning the art of living in the ‘now and ahead’. As a musician, I need to prepare for what’s coming, while simultaneously making the present note meaningful. If I focus too much on what’s coming next in the music, I miss the note I am playing, or it is played without intention or expression. Just like in life, when my mind is not fully present I play on autopilot, losing the joy and the meaning of the music.
One of the skills that my piano students learn is how to shift from one location on the piano to another. Beginner pieces keep the hand position the same for the entire piece, but as students advance, their hand positions are no longer static. Shifting is learning to move one or both hands while continuing to play with the other – the now and the ahead. Some pieces of music allow for plenty of time to shift, and others shift very suddenly. It’s a lot like life. Sometimes changes come at us fast and furious and all at once, other times we have smoother transitions. But one thing’s for certain: there is no standing still. Time keeps going…ready or not.
On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!
This fall has been a very sudden shift for me, I must admit I haven’t handled it very well. I would have preferred to ease in to this new season, but instead it feels the beginning of a race. On your mark, get set…Go! My mind is so full of ‘to do’ lists and future events that I am having a hard time being present and at peace in the moment. My anxiety has ramped up, and I am realizing very quickly that this new season requires me to live differently…if I want to get through it with my sanity intact! It’s time to apply my piano lessons to my life. I need to learn the art of living in the now and ahead if I want to finish this race. And for me that means off-loading the weight of worry.
Worrying is something I am well practiced in. Worrying is a bit like prayer – it’s meditating on problems and ‘what if’s’. It’s all about trying to gain control over things I can’t control, and things that may never even happen. I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy on worry, even though I know it doesn’t affect the outcome. The Bible addresses worry quite a bit. And though these truths are ‘simple’, they are far from easy, at least for me. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34). And “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6) “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you “(1 Peter 5:7). In my experience, ‘casting my cares’ often feels like throwing a boomerang; they always seem to return to me.
An Antidote for Worry
Worry is a poison that infects every area of life. And gratitude is the antidote for worry. Gratitude is the practice of taking my worries and replacing them with God’s thoughts and his love for me. Last year, I felt prompted to journal my own personal history with God; to remember the ways he has shown up in my life (I highly recommend trying this!). When I finished, I was amazed and encouraged. I could see how faithful God has been and how much he has done in my life. It is so easy to forget the beautiful experiences and the many answers to prayer I have seen in the past. They are quickly lost among the pile of worries and problems. Gratitude reframes my problems within God’s faithfulness and brings hope for the future.
Thank God I’m not God
It is such a relief to know that there is a God, and I am not him!! He is big enough to handle my biggest problems, and loving enough to help me with even my smallest worries. If you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, take a few minutes to listen to this song by Brian Doerksen. It is a beautiful meditation of the truth that underneath all things, God’s everlasting arms are holding us. He is with us in the now and ahead. We don’t have to do this alone. Life is a beautiful song…let’s not miss the beauty of a single note.