Cello-buying, friendship, and self-care

I have a student who’s in the process of choosing a cello to buy. Sometimes a person will find just the right cello immediately. More often, it’s a narrowing down, trying multiple instruments, learning how to listen and speak about them, a contemplation that takes a lot of focus and energy. Buying an instrument before one has the technique to get the best sound out of it can be a tricky business. I always go cello shopping with my students, so that they can hear the sound from the other side of the instrument. We picked up four cellos last week, and she brought two to her lesson. They are so different in character it is quite difficult to choose. With infinite resources, one would have multiple instruments for different pieces and moods. But most of us do not have that kind of money. So we have to pick an instrument that will give us most of what we want most of the time. Neither of these two is calling to her sufficiently powerfully to make the choice plain. We’re going to do round two next week. I do enjoy sharing this experience with my students. Often, by the time they’re ready to buy they’ve been playing for a while, and almost always the cello they buy is a step or more up from the rental instrument upon which they’ve been learning. It’s exciting and motivating to have a new and better cello. I remember when I got mine. I wanted to play non-stop for weeks. It was just after I’d graduated from college/conservatory. My teacher called me up one day and said he’d found the cello for me. The maker had come through town with various instruments, and this one had my name on it. Great sound, small body, powerful but lovely. I have loved it ever since.

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We spent a good part of the evening with our friends, hanging out, eating, talking, decompressing with them after the intensity of illness and death. The next chapter is upon them, in the form of dealing with the estate, but this evening we played with the babies and Hazel, and for the most part relaxed. Hazel and our friend P wrote letters to mail to each other. We’ll walk Hazel’s letter down to the post office tomorrow. It’s such a lovely idea. We live in an electronic age, but there’s nothing quite like the magic of getting something special in the mailbox. We will also mail our 2013 family calendar to my niece, and some music to friends in the UK. Maybe we’ll make it to the bank, too. These errands will be fun, because they’ll be an adventure with Hazel. As it got to be Hazel’s bedtime this evening, Ted took her home and I stayed a while longer to talk, and nurse the babies. Their presence lightens the feeling in the room, and their curiosity and charm evoke smiles amidst sadness.

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I have begun a form of meditation which is saying mantras. I say them in the car sometimes, or lying in bed. They feel powerful to me. They are already helping me to shift my state, which was sliding downhill over the past few weeks. I am starting to feel more alive again, moving out of the numbness of grief and overwhelm. I am glad that I have the resource I do in my once-in-a-while healer/therapist. She gives me tools I can use to heal myself and improve my life. I am grateful for all the people I have in my self-care network: my Pilates teacher; the personal trainer I see sometimes at the gym; my naturopath. Life is work, and it’s good to make that work as efficient and effective as possible.

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