Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Be Who You Are Now

I didn’t even know I was doing it until I wasn’t doing it anymore. A simple shift in perspective that came about because of a fiddle lesson I took with David Ellis.  My fiddle playing was a hot mess.  I always felt like I needed to apologize for being a poor fiddle player because in my mind a good fiddle player played a lot of notes really fast.  The fact that I couldn’t do that without scaring cats and young children didn’t stop me from going at it like I could.  

When David listened to me play he said, “That was interesting.”  I guess he forgot that I was a teacher because in teacher language that means, man have we got some undoing to do. His first stab at undoing my mistaken belief about what made a good fiddle player was to tell me a story about Alison Krauss. In one ear and out the other. Then he tried a story about a bass player I know and respect. Didn’t care. 

In my mind a good fiddler played a lot of notes really fast and that’s what I was going to do. Then he said something that had the ring of wisdom. “You know, Deb, you don’t play the way you did and you can’t play the way you will. Why don’t you play the way you play now?” That’s what he said. What I heard was, “Why don’t you be who you are now?”  That was kind of a liberating idea. I loved it.

My fiddle playing improved instantly simply by playing the way I play now to the best of my ability. Not only did I stop scaring cats and young children I started to enjoy playing my fiddle again.  I became more confident and took more musical risks.  I started taking fiddle breaks and asking for fiddle songs. The guys at The Redlight didn’t know what to think. Neither did I, for that matter.  I liked the feeling of being who I was now, and I carried it into my work and a few of my relationships.  I stopped being concerned about what I couldn’t do and who I wasn’t and enjoyed what I could do and who I was now.  

That would have been more than enough. However, yesterday I realized that there was an additional benefit to being who I was now. I was rummaging through an old footlocker during a cleaning binge. It was filled with journals and photographs, and love letters that I could have sworn I burned.  In the past when I revisited my teens and early twenties I cringed a little for the girl I thought I was. Yesterday I laughed out loud.  It was so much fun to revisit that part of my life in a way that it had never been before.  I found myself liking who I had been very much. I felt myself letting go of old ideas about who I was and who I should have been.  It was as if scales dropped from my eyes and I could see clearly again.

When I paused to consider the change I realized it was because I had stopped apologizing for being who I was. I was unaware that I lived my life doing that until I stopped.  It might not have been all the time, but it was often enough and often enough is too often.  For the first time I saw the young woman I had been with loving eyes. I saw myself the way I was instead of the very flawed way my family and ex-husband told me I was. It was a  delightful way to spend the afternoon.   It’s either fear or love, baby.  This is love, being who you are now.



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