With What Remains

I was just finishing reading one of my favorite books by Rabbi Steve Leder, More Beautiful than Before. In the final chapter he writes about the violinist Yitzhak Perlman who had a string to break just as he was beginning a concerto in Carnegie Hall. Perlman changed his fingerings to play the piece and said at the end, “It is my job to make music with what remains.”

During these strange times when it is evident every single day that we have lost so many comforts and supports in our everyday lives, it is up to us also to make music with what remains.  The ultimate crucible for creativity is not about having plenty or even being comfortable.  Finding a way to make things not only work but be even better happens sometimes when we seem to be staring down an impossible situation.

I can only imagine what teachers and parents who are teaching at home will come up with to make school work this fall.  While some are rightly concerned about the mental health of children who are out of the classroom, likely there will be unexpected growth in other directions.  Learning to be a self starter and setting personal goals for learning can happen when we are away from group think and must find ways to entertain and challenge ourselves.  There is a dawning that the formerly gleeful freedom from school experienced on snow days wears thin and going to school begins to look more like a privilege in all of our eyes.

Part of emotional health is resilience, or the ability to bounce back from stressors and setbacks.  We build this ability in ourselves by not lamenting our broken strings but going forward in confidence that we can make our own music with what we may not even know we have had all along.