“Life is like a public performance on the violin, in which you must learn the instrument as you go along.”
~ E. M. Forster, A Room with a View
We get caught up in trying to play it cool.
We want to know we’ll hit all the right notes before we begin to play. We talk to each other using hand-me-down scripts that never fit anyone. We say what we’re supposed to say and laugh when we’re supposed to laugh.
We pat each other’s projections on the back. We have our little elevator speeches about who we are and what we do. I don’t want to know any of that. Can we skip that part?
Let’s talk about what you think of right before you fall asleep. Do you like strawberries? What was your first kiss was like? Which side do you sleep on and do you bite your nails? I want to know what scares you, what you want so badly you’re afraid to ask for it, what you’ve been daydreaming about.
Freshly-pressed, camera-ready and finely-tuned gets boring. I’d rather be a little out of tune and keep on playing. I love all the rumpled hair and un-tucked, out-of-breath moments. Those moments when we fall apart a little at the seams and laugh too hard or sing off-key—those are where we’re beautiful.
I could do without those polished speeches with their perfect balance of arrogance and self-effacement. I don’t want patter. I want to hear you, the inside you—the awkward 14-year-old you that gets a little nervous and stumbles with your shy smile and your hair in your eyes. Deep down, we each are still that awkward 14-year-old. If we can let go of all the projections and the posturing and let those 14-year-olds talk to each other, things will be a lot easier.
Don’t worry if your violin is out of tune, or if you can’t remember the notes—just play.
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