As I slow down, I am realizing that I am not a one-man-band. The universe does not revolve around my efforts. I am not indispensable. And contrary to how I often feel, I do not carry the entire weight of the world in my poor arms.
Instead, I do my little part and those around me do their parts and we all manage together. None of us are perfect, but we manage to make things work in spite of our mistakes.
Nowhere is this more true than at the junior high band concert I attended tonight. Eddie plays the trombone in the beginning band and I went to cheer him on.
I'd really rather have stayed home on the couch, but if I stayed, I would have been on for dinner patrol. I gladly let Trent manage the last part off dinner prep, getting everyone to the table, the happy chaos of eating, and the cleaning up. For my part of parenting duties, I'm sitting comfortably in a padded chair, listening to the different junior high bands.
They aren't as painful as I remember from when I was in junior high and for that I am grateful. As the beginning band stayed up, a single clarinet came in a count to early. An oboe squawked and the low brass played heavily over the top of the woodwinds. A tiny girl crashed cymbals that were nearly as big as her arms were long, and she struggled to stay on beat with the heavy metal cymbals. The snare drummer executed a lopsided drumroll, and a single note from the bells sounded out clearly during what should have been a quiet part. At the end of a song, a single flutist hung onto her note too long. But we all clapped enthusiastically anyway.
We cheer them on because we see ourselves in these fresh-faced kids who are trying so hard to do a hard thing well. Most of them just started playing their instruments a few scant months ago. They might not have known how to read music, or have had the strength to hold up their instrument more than a few minutes. But they keep practicing. Every honest try earns a modicum of improvement., a smidgen of skill. And together, they get sounding pretty good.
The second band plays, then the third. Each band is more practiced, more sure of themselves, more skilled. They transform the tunes into heart-moving music. They grow into musicians. And they touch our hearts.
We applaud them and hope that somewhere there are cheerleaders for us as we keep trying to do things that are hard for us - things that we aren't yet as good at as we'd like to be. I do my little part and you do yours, and together we make something worth listening to.