Day 29: Windows

posted March 10, 2018

The guys put the windows and doors on the house this week. Last weekend, Gaby came over to help me think about landscaping, which we can’t afford right now, but maybe in a year. The land looks beat up, muddied, ridged, denuded of its loam, which is in storage at our contractor’s barn. I always wanted to want to garden, but I do not. I want someone to garden for me.

In my guitar class today, we sang “Morning Has Broken.” Tricia told me the story of her grandmother singing that song on New Year’s Day 2000. Her grandmother was a gardener, and she came out into the yard, into the new day, into the new century with her hands raised to the light and sang that song. Maybe when I am a grandmother, I will love to garden.

The best thing in my life right now is that my son has returned to playing the violin. In one of those “ask and ye shall receive” moments, a little probing produced a changed attitude. It feels like a miracle.

My spiritual practice is to try to see why any given situation is the best outcome, or how to turn situations into the best outcome. My long grieving over his quitting the violin a year or so ago has been one that hasn’t budged for me, even though he’s taken up piano. It’s not at all that I wish he were a violinist. It’s that I feel as though I failed him in my role as Suzuki parent. I was everything you are not supposed to be: impatient, perfectionistic and bossy. And now, more than ever, I want that practice time with him, that half hour a day. Not so that he can get better on violin. But so that I can practice patience and kindness and respect with him.

And so we do. We are both changed. He is focused, now. Full of insights, he stops his practice to set down his violin and pick up a pen to write himself reminders and cues on the music. He operates the iPhone’s Amazing Slow Downer (the world’s best app). He sometimes begs me for a second practice.  He says at least once a day, “I am so glad I’m back on the violin, Mama.”

What do we miss? I change my routine, go back to an old one, and I feel such a shift. I gave up coffee for Lent, and I am not the same. Part of me is so glad to be drinking tea again. With tea, I can drink it all day and it barely does a thing for me. I am scattered, distracted, hazy. But I get to have the companion/distractor of Tea all the time. With coffee, it was two or three times a day, potent and strong, but I missed it terribly when my coffee cup was empty. I had no idea how much I’d missed practicing with Johnny.

I am different in practice, too. I really do use it as an awareness exercise. When he plays a bowing wrong? I keep my mouth shut. I sit and watch him. I do not text, look at the weather on my phone, write lists of things to do. I simply watch him. I notice. I nod. I beam. It’s all he seems to need right now. Maybe it’s all he ever needed.






Today, my house is filled with writers for the Finishing retreat. It’s the end of the astrological year, and we’re in Pisces, so we will focus on endings and transitions. I have a song half-written. We now have ten songs for a new record. I brought the writers back to the house, showed them around, fantasized about summertime and came back in to my guitar.

The Comments

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  1. All learning is a function of readiness. Johnny, it seems, is ready now to pick up the violin again. Of course he knows how much you value music, and our children, eventually gravitate to the values we have, hold dear, and express.

    Just as we as parents offer different foods at many times as our child rockets through youth, allowing him/her agency to choose on his/her own, the same is true of things like teaching them music.

    You were not so bossy as to crush his spirit. You were not so impatient as to force him to practice to the point of him rejecting music forever. Gentle persistence is a thing in teaching anyone. And be advised that even this interest my ebb and flow. That is how humans are. Just keep at it Nerissa. He will thank you later, even if he never makes a dime playing that violin as an adult.

    Love the windows on Little Blue. I always think of windows on a house being like eyes to a human.


  2. A thing to remember about teaching is that the learner is always changing. In the case of a child, developmental stages keep occurring. Don’t be fooled by the illusion of control over situations. Oftentimes, the origin of a change is unknowable, despite seeming cause and effect. Lucky you to reap the benefits of whatever has happened.

    Thrilled to hear of new music. Eagerly anticipating.


  3. Thanks for this. I, too, find tea more conducive to creative functionality.

    “Today, my house is filled with writers.” A single sentence that perfectly encapsulates one of my concepts of heaven.

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