It’s class concert time again – two down and four to go. Thinking about again staring down performance anxiety helped me remember my conversations with my teacher about playing for others – that performing is a way to connect and communicate with people. In the middle of my remembering, I was blessed with a wonderful image and a mind-movie that’s made me peaceful as I think about the upcoming concerts.
In the midst of deep woods, at the end of a long, steep path softly carpeted with the pine needles and fallen leaves of many years, there is a lake. Its clear, sparkling, spring-fed waters reflect the opalescent sky above, the deep greens of the trees that surround it, and the golds of sunrise. This is the lake of music.
Not many people walk the path to the lake of music. They may have heard of it, but think that the path is too rugged and too steep. Or they may never have heard of the lake and the magic it contains.
It’s musicians who regularly come here. Once at the water’s edge, a musician takes one of the silver and gold ladles nestled in the carpet of moss on the shoreline, dips it into the cool, pure water, lifts it to her lips, and takes a long, slow drink.
Then the musician fills her ladle again, rises and walks back up the path. She’ll carry water to those who wait thirsting at the top of the long hill. There, friends and strangers alike can drink their fill. Other musicians will join her in bringing ladles of water from the lake. They will all make many trips down the path and back again, so that they can share more of the lake’s life-giving water with those who cannot walk the path themselves.
Some musicians have come to the lake for many years. They quench their thirst with abandon and delight. Their steps on the path are sure, they discern the placement of the footholds that lie hidden under the pine needles and fallen leaves. Their ladles are full at the end of their climbs.
Others are newer at this task. Their feet slip on wet leaves, or trip on the roots of trees. They arrive at the lake breathless and exhausted from the effort that stopped their tumbling headfirst down the steeper sections of the path. They take small sips, still in wonder that they truly have permission to drink their fill. They struggle to bring a full ladle up the path. Sometimes only a few drops of water remain, but undaunted, they share all that they are able to carry.
It doesn’t matter if, at the top of the hill, at the end of the path, the ladle is full or nearly splashed away. Each ladle of water, no matter how full, is precious. Each drop of water shared gives life and restores the souls of the musicians and of those who await them, alike. For at the lake of music, all is exactly as it should be. There is no judgement, no right or wrong, no too-little or too-much. There is only sweet water, waiting to be savored.