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Sunday, November 02, 2003

The Journey of Life

I woke up today, and I knew what I would do and how my day would go, and yes, sure enough, it went exactly as I had thought it would. And tonight I find myself missing the days when each day was an adventure; when I felt with much greater clarity than I do now that my life is part of a great Story by the greatest Author. There was a time when I felt a part of something much larger and much greater and more beautiful than myself, and when I shared that sense of wonder with close friends. And it's not that my life is unhappy now, but sometimes it does seem more... mundane. I know that it isn't mundane... I've been given exciting and wonderful opportunities in my life! Perhaps I just long for people with whom to share each day, the sort of people who see life for its possibilities and who love Beauty and Truth. I know my life isn't mundane, but I no longer really think that I'll do anything to change the world. Was there a time when I thought so? I can't really remember. I suppose that, in general, freshman year is the time for epiphanies and enthusiasm and late nights and hours of talking and hours of laughing, and maybe where I was had less to do with things than who I was then. Then again, maybe it did make a difference. And if so, was it for the better or for the worse?

Well, they say that it's inevitable; eventually that great thing called "real life" sets in. I haven't gotten there yet, of course, but it's seeming closer. What will I do after I graduate? I suppose I'd like to have a job in an orchestra, maybe. And I'd definitely like to have a cozy music studio tucked in a cozy apartment somewhere, and I'll have children of all ages come for their weekly violin lessons. I'll have posters of Madame Butterfly or La Boheme or the Chicago Symphony on the walls, and a piano in the room, and maybe a grey cat curled up on a chair in the corner, and I'll have shelves and shelves of books. My first student of the afternoon will arrive, and I'll greet her and we'll take a few minutes to talk about life, and then she'll play and I'll accompany her on the piano sometimes, and we'll work together and I'll try to teach her and show her and help her discover not only how to play the violin, but also why. Why it's worth it to learn something so difficult; to use fingers and hands and bodies to draw the music out of the violin. And here and there I'll have chances to throw in tidbits of music history or literature or other things I love, and I'll get my teaching-and-talking fix for the day, and then we'll be finished and she'll pack up her violin and I'll tell her what she's done well and what to work on that week and I'll help her into her coat and see her to the door and wave goodbye and smile, and then walk back into my apartment and sit with my cat, or read a book, or practice, or listen to music.

I think that can change the world. Like the teacher in "Pay it Forward" who says he changes the world by getting up each morning, taking a shower, eating a healthy breakfast, and coming to school on time to teach his class of seventh-graders - and passing the bar to them to each go on and continue to change the world in their own ways. In the end, perhaps it won't always be the high-profile figures who change the world as much as the Mommies and Daddies and teachers and grandparents and everyday people do. Tolkien shows us this with characters like Frodo and, maybe even more so, Sam. Sometimes I think Sam is really the one the story is about. The simple gardener who becomes swept up as a participant in the legend. "Crazy about stories of the old days he is, and he listens to all Mr. Bilbo's tales...Elves and Dragons! I says to him, Cabbages and potatoes are better for me and you." And as soon as we read this, we have to like Sam, because we understand how it is... we're just like him or we wouldn't be reading the books. We're dreaming of faeries and elves, wizards and dragons, too. And this simple and loyal gardener won't leave Frodo's side through all the journeys and battles and hardships, and the beauties and the triumphs too. Sam is more than he sees in himself. Frodo, too. And Merry and Pippin. Hobbits truly are amazing creatures. "That's the way of a real tale... The people in it don't know..." "Why, to think of it, we're in the same tale still! It's still going on. Don't the great tales never end?" "No, they never end as tales... but the people in them come, and go when their part's ended." Tolkien ends his tale not with the destruction of the Ring, and not even with Frodo, but with Sam. "Well, I'm back." Three little words that make me cry each time I read them. Because I hate for the tale to be ended, but also because if it must be over, there's no better finish.

Few people will ever get to be Aragorn, son of Arathorn, the King. Few will be Legolas. Perhaps none of us, and least of all me, will ever have the chance to be Frodo. But Sam, the simplest of hobbits, has the heart of a servant and the greatest of souls. A simple gardener, but with the strength of character to walk beside Frodo when it is suddenly required of him. And so to be told, "I'm glad you're with me, Sam."

All these journeys are part of a larger story... I wish I could see how mine was connected to the big picture. I know that's what makes it exciting, though... we don't know what comes next! But we DO know the defining moment, the turning point in all of history... is Jesus Christ. And I suppose that's enough to know.

Life really isn't mundane. I shouldn't be feeling that way.

I wrote seven variations on a theme today for a theory assignment. That wasn't mundane. It was fun! (We only have to write four, but I was enjoying it so much that I wrote seven; now I can pick my four favorites to turn in on Tuesday.)

I practiced today. Scales can seem mundane sometimes, but really, they're fun, and a great way to accomplish a maximum of beneficial results in a minimum of time.

Really, my life has been pretty exciting and wonderful, and overall, growing up is just... wow. Each year, each month, each day, I learn so much. About God, myself, others, life, everything. As life goes on, some things change and other things stay the same and oh, life is just full of exciting experiences. Some days, like today, might go according to my plans, but other days a single seemingly insignificant event like a phone call or event or circumstance can change everything. If I hadn't gone to Wheaton, if I hadn't played in that masterclass on a Saturday morning (and it was a near thing; I very nearly decided not to do it because I didn't feel prepared), I would never have met the person who is now my violin teacher; if I hadn't taken him up on his offer to go to music camp and study with him, if I hadn't then taken him up on his offer to come here and continue studying with him... what would I be doing right now? I wonder. But life is good.

I'm in the story, so I can't read ahead, but I already know the final ending, and the High King has granted that I shall serve as a warrior for Him in the meantime, and has placed a sword in my hands... just what that sword is and how I shall use it, that's what is still unfolding. And whatever that is, it may go on to affect future generations in ways, small or large, that I may never know or see. And in the end, after all of this, we shall all meet again! "Next year in Jerusalem," in a larger sort of sense even than that. "We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in."

What will my tomorrow hold?

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