tonight i remind myself, as i close windows and turn off lights that tomorrow is a new day. that the things i didn’t get done today, emails i didn’t send and phone calls i didn’t cross off my list, will wait another 8-10 hours for the rising of the very hot, california sun. it was a good day and i thank God for the hopefulness of a new school year, with concert tickets bought for walt disney hall with an adult student, with breakfast plans with a new friend down in laguna tomorrow, with travel plans finalizing for my upcoming trip to the sunshine state. there’s always going to be more. so what do i tell myself at the end of this day?
don’t lose heart. it’s the quiet of the evening that is most challenging. tempted to drown out our own silence, we get together and dinner out. we watch bad tv. we have our own places we go when we’re restless, whether it’s drink or shopping or chick-fil-A sandwiches. it’s easier to be out, than in. the inward life is demanding. and yet … it’s what i preach day in, day out, to my students. why classical study is what i’ve built my life around. i still love a greatly crafted pop song and love writing music, but classical study is the stuff i want to hate, but have to admit, it’s the seeds of character. character – the thing that forces you to keep your concentration while you’re learning 6 pages of bach. it’s the studio speakers when you’re in the recording studio that tell you the truth of how you sound. bach does the same type of honest work. you can’t think about things like cash flow while you’re learning, or recording. you must stay in the confines of those notes, in that measure. it’s just harder, and when you’re done for the day, you’re tempted to quit. please don’t. we need you. that “you” whose character is solid, that has a unique voice that only comes from a place of honed choices over time to concentrate on measures, not be out at nordstrom because it feels better being out. in is harder than out.
one thing i know about not losing heart. it’s not up to me entirely. there’s a tension to being a disciple that only a disciple would know. we long to be home, but we are here. this place is not home and when you’ve experienced loss, the hope of somewhere other than here rings loudly in our eternal natures. it makes staying in this measure harder. the measures where fingering comes unnaturally. the drudgery of learning can just become dreary. but i tell myself, and 3 distinct conversations this morning, with 3 different friends who are all working through their private depressions, we can’t lose heart. he who began this work in me will complete it. i’m staying in. (don’t forget to turn on the a/c tomorrow.)
I have more on my to-do list than is humanly possible. i know you know what that looks like. what it feels like … like an anvil on your chest that wakes you up at 4 a.m. and after 4 hours of staring at your life on paper and bills still to be paid, and your coffee’s cold by now and you need to get up and go for a walk or go to the gym, but instead you pick up the phone to make a long needed call, and after a while, you realize that another hour has passed and you have one thing crossed off your list. i’m sure you know nothing of what i’m speaking about, right? as i said to a friend this morning, do the hardest thing. for me, it’s calling someone and saying, yeah, i think i made a mistake when i overlooked this one bill. oops. admitting failure, defeat. not exactly my strong suit.
i remind myself as i talk to my students that what they do from week to week is heroic, in their very small ways, and they don’t even know it. they’re taking piano lessons, and they walk in with their head bowed down and say sheepishly, it’s been a hard week and school is starting and we’re trying to squeeze in the last bits of summer and i’m sorry, i didn’t do my e-flat scale. and i shake it off and say, it’s all good. what bravery it is to admit that and they hope that i don’t take the ruler out and whack their hands or hearts with my – “no, you must practice at all cost” dogma. life happens. daily. it just can suck the living daylights out of you, if you let it. so don’t. don’t let it. tell the voices in your head to shut up. or as a pastor said a couple weeks ago at church, stop feeding that giant.
we are powerful and strong, and yes, i went to the pat benatar concert. heartache to heartache. we stand. in the power of jesus. in the power of hitting the boxing bag or attacking the hills. we stand. go get the hardest thing done you have to do. if it’s the e-flat scale, or calling your mom. go do it.
tonight is the eve of my father’s 83rd birthday. he’s been gone for 16 years. i feel like baking cake. not just for him, or the memory of him, but oddly enough, to begin to move past the grief of my brother’s passing. december 4, 2014. i’ve lost track of the days between then and now and of numb and bored and lost and sad and tears and looking for hope in the face of strangers and someone, anyone, who understands what it’s like to lose a sibling. i remember when my divorce finalized that i couldn’t cry for weeks and maybe months. i walked into best buy and bought adele’s “21” and wept for weeks afterwards. it did the trick. i find solace in the craziest of places. best buy? funny. tonight, it was watching jennifer aniston’s finest work, in the movie “cake”. and sweetly enough, the tears i’ve been waiting to shed have arrived. sure, i’ve wept and mourned but today finally feels hopeful. i lit a candle. i’m taking out the flour to make a cake. i’m moving past the necklace around my neck that reminds me of him. i cherish the memory of him, in the company of a man who has replaced him with genuine laughter and sarcasm, in only the way my brother would have welcomed. i embrace his beautiful and terrifying need for privacy and yet, that’s what compelled him to make those choices in the end. i expect to see him on the other side, and the longing for heaven becomes that much more pronounced. i quietly see his face when i rant about the ridiculous state of our politics and how our churches need the real jesus. should it be chocolate or yellow? yellow, it is. it’s my favorite color, after all.
p.s. i’m listening to needtobreathe now, instead of adele. such beautifully, hopeful music. “brother, let me be your shelter”. indeed.