This post was originally written in April 2009. It was a good reminder today about the importance of living properly and weeding out the unnecessary to make room for the most important.
As of last month I’ve officially been online for thirteen years. And in those thirteen years I cannot begin to fathom how many millions of words I’ve read – most of them forgettable as soon as I’ve surfed away. And then there are those few that have remained in my heart and mind. Articles I’ve read or blog posts I’ve discovered that I’ve referred to time and again over the years. Some I’ve printed out or saved electronically so I can always have a copy of them – they were that significant to me.
One of those treasures was written by Lanier a few years ago. It was a simple post about the importance of music in her life and this line has resonated in my life time and time again since I first read it:
I’ve realized that when I’m too busy to make music, I’m too busy to be living properly. It’s that important to me—I wonder that I can ever forget…
There are a few things in life that are important to me and when I am too busy for them, I’m too busy to be living properly. Making music is one of them. Now I suspect that Lanier is a true pianist. I simply play the piano. There is a vast difference, but even just playing the piano for my own pleasure brings me a lot of joy. I haven’t played the piano much since Caroline was born. There just hasn’t been sufficient time or energy. Lately that has been changing and it has struck me all over again how much I enjoy making music. David bought this book for me for my birthday (Jane Austen’s World (Piano)), something I’ve been looking at for a long time but just never ordered. I’ve been so enjoying playing these relatively simple arrangements of favorite music from these films.
Perhaps sweetest of all is that Caroline is finally to the point where she no longer sees my playing as an obstacle to her own playing but instead is something to be enjoyed. Yesterday I opened the piano so she could “play” it and after a relatively short time she came over and asked me to play. She stood and listened for a while and then played quietly with her toys while I played for quite some time. To say it was a little bit of heaven on earth would not be an exaggeration. It was a great blessing at the end of what have been several very trying weeks.
During the past week I’ve been making a concerted effort to slow down. I’ve been going to bed earlier and sleeping in a bit longer. I’ve been reading some light fiction for extended periods of time. I’ve been listening to good music and I’ve been playing the piano almost daily. I’ve been sitting down a few times each day and doing nothing but resting. The strains of the recent weeks have taken a toll on my body and spirit and it was time to just reduce life to the most basic and important things. Beyond taking care of daily needs such as meals, laundry and such, the most basic needs in my life are music and quiet, peaceful reading.
And even when I have been doing the daily necessary things, I’ve been making a point not to rush. I’ve worked slowly and deliberately whether it is loading the washing machine or doing the dishes. I’ve spent more time on the floor with Caroline and I’ve spent less time on the computer. I’ve spent more time talking with David and less time thinking about the world. I’ve spent more time trying to connect with the people who mean the most to me and a lot less time thinking about people who don’t.
We’re living through a historic moment in time. Like so many who live through major events, they can’t fully comprehend the magnitude of what is going on around them. We tend to view historic events as events that are a package deal and we label them with some big label like WWI or the Great Depression. But in the midst of those big events, there were millions of people living out their ordinary lives day after day, week after week, year after year.
I can’t really impact whatever this as yet unnamed major event is. The only thing I can impact is my own quiet corner of the world. If things are really going to tank in the months ahead, then I might as well enjoy the last few months of quiet and peace because who knows what is ahead. And if the worst is past us (which I don’t really believe), then I might as well enjoy myself because better days are ahead.
I’ve also made a point of spending more time reading, relaxing and enjoying the piano in order to be a model for Caroline. She is two and a half now and is approaching the age where she will start to have memories in the future and where my actions and attitudes will begin to shape her views and actions. I can’t possibly teach her to enjoy the beauty of life if I don’t model it myself. And I can’t teach her to rest in Christ if I’m not doing it. And so I see these choices as not just vital for my own sanity and overall health, but also in laying a foundation for her life.