If Experience Has Taught Us Anything…”

“Life is like playing a violin solo in public, and learning the instrument as one goes on.” ~ Samuel Butler, Essays on Life, Art, and Science … 

It took me a few years to learn the basics of playing an instrument when I was younger, and several more years until I felt confident playing a solo. In retrospect, it is easy to see how very difficult it would have been for me to expect myself to be able to perform a solo without some learning involved–for it is in playing that we do our learning. Yet as Samuel points out… learning as we go, is precisely the music that our lives are composed of.

Of course, it would be wonderful if life were to come with an instruction manual or a road map with directions on how to reach our destination. I cannot tell you how many times I would have loved to be able to prepare beforehand, or practice for a certain situation, before I actually had to go through it. But life does not always allow us such opportunities… and that is perfectly okay. For we each have the opportunity to learn, to grow, and to try again at nearly everything in life, quite literally every day.

I am sure you have heard the expression “If experience has taught us anything…” The truth is that experience teaches us so very much if we allow it to. And we do not necessarily have to go out into a public place and play a violin solo to realize this either. If we just look at some of the simple lessons life is offering us each day, we will discover countless moments of learning, growth, and change is available to us. But if we see life as a series of tasks in which we must perform perfectly, we are setting ourselves up for some pretty miserable moments and situations.

We must be gentle with ourselves, and learn from our mistakes and failures, for we have been called to play a solo without any preparation at all except that which we get as we go along. Life is going to thrust us into situations that will challenge us without preparing us for them beforehand. And there will be notes we will miss, and our instruments will need some proper tuning now and again, but as long as we do our best to continue learning the instrument and learning the song, our music will grow all the more beautiful with time.

Let yourself try things that you are not familiar with, or things that may take you out of your normal comfort zone.

Questions to consider:

If life were easier and less challenging, would we learn as much from it?

What would you do if someone gave you a violin or a cello or another instrument you did not know how to play and asked you to play a solo? How would you feel?

Why do we sometimes feel we should be really good at something even if we have never done it before and never have been taught about it?

For further thought:

“There are no classes in life for beginners; right away you are always asked to deal with what is most difficult.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge


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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

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