Saturday, January 8, 2011

Letter to my 'cello teacher, one year later

Dear Judith,

It's been one year since my first 'cello lesson with you. I was pretty nervous about the whole process: the rental and use of an instrument I knew nothing about, the weekly one-on-one lessons as an adult, the practicing, the likeliness of very slow progress, the financial commitment to something that could be seen as "self-indulgent" or "frivolous". But with all of that, my biggest worry was committing to something that I might find out I didn't like or worse yet, wasn't good at. How did I know if I would get along with the 'cello at all? How long might I have to keep at it in order to figure that out?

What a year of learning and development I've enjoyed! As adults, it's not often that we put ourselves willingly into the path of the unknown. Most of the time the unknown is forced upon us, intimidating and triggers a fear response. But going into the unknown and persevering beyond our initial fears allows us to learn and change, to not stagnate. It allows us to feel the hope that exists in progress, even when that progress feels glacially slow. But perhaps "glacial" is the only way for meaningful, lasting progress to happen. I mean, think of the changes left behind by glacial activity!

As an adult, the process of learning something new seems to be not just about the gradual ownership of specific skills and techniques but perhaps even more about ownership of ourselves, overcoming our fears (of being wrong, of being imperfect, of being a novice) and about experiencing the joys of discovery on an intimate level. This has been my experience during the past year and it has added a deep measure of satisfaction to my life.

I can only assume that the encouragement, patience, knowledge and passion of the right teacher, (at the right time with the right student) is the catalyst in this fantastic experiment. Committing to the 'cello and having you as my very first guide for this adventure have been two of the most unexpectedly rewarding things I've experienced as an adult.

With deep gratitude,

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