Mozart string quartets, baby on the playground, risk and courage

I am listening to Mozart quartets (specifically K. 465 at the moment) and feeling blissed out. I never tire of Mozart’s compositional energy and emotional expressivity. And the string quartet is such a marvelous form, capable of great depth and complexity, clarity and immediacy.

I had two students unexpectedly cancel today, and a third who’s traveling out of town. Ted has the kids off at the grocery store for the weekly shop, so in a minute I’ll go down and use the bonanza of time I’ve been given to practice my modern piece, and then some of our quartet rep. In the meantime, I’m drinking hot chocolate, writing my blog, and feeling myself expand into and rest in the empty peace of the house.

I am not a religious person, but I thank the powers that be from the bottom of my heart for music, such music, that reaches heart and mind and body and spirit.

This afternoon while I was hanging out at the playground with my kids after school, there was a baby sitting by himself/herself on the asphalt, happily chewing on everything within reach. Emily saw the baby and decided to help out by bringing over another stick like the one that was currently being chewed on, and then more wood chips. The baby’s father was sitting some distance away, watching. A grandma nearby expressed distress over the muddy state of the baby’s onesie. I said that didn’t bother me; after all, that’s what clothes are for, but that chewing on wood chips might give the baby splinters in its mouth. Nonetheless, it is up to the baby’s parent to make that call, not up to me. The grandma couldn’t take it, and abruptly left.

A friend of mine recently wrote on her blog that her parenting philosophy when her kid was little boiled down to, “Is it going to kill or seriously hurt you or someone else? No? Then go for it!” That made me think. I definitely have helicopter parent tendencies I have to frequently internally combat. So with that in mind, I decided that a) wood chips aren’t going to kill the baby, b) its dad is watching and can intervene if necessary, and c) it’s not my risk tolerance that’s important here, but his. An interesting test of my previous post about risk and judgment. Thank you universe, for this chance to learn and be tested. I am grateful, really, I am. đŸ™‚

{Have I mentioned how much I love Mozart quartets? Oh, yes, I just did that above. Yup, still listening, still loving.}

I was thinking about how constant monitoring is the norm now in hospitals, during births. I don’t like it, didn’t want it for my second delivery, was told by the midwife I had for the first part of my pregnancy that if I kicked up a fuss about that she’d drop me as a client. I was pretty mad about that. But I think constant monitoring has become our societal norm, as though a flood of information will always make us safer, and that at least it is a virtuous thing to cover our asses plan for all contingencies.

Safety First! has become our rallying cry.

I think that courage is at least as important. Courage is, of course, not the same as blindly foolhardy, thoughtless behavior. But courage is needed for change, for growth, for investigation, for connection, for compassion, for understanding, for persisting through challenge and difficulty. Safety is not a virtue: courage is.

I have a friend currently fighting the demons of depression. She has courage in abundance, and that is something I deeply admire and respect. Courage doesn’t always feel like bravery, but it shows up when people show up, again and again, in the face of odds both small and tremendous. It is a practice as much or more than it is an emotional state. In fact, I’d say that bravery is more the feeling that people associate with courage, while the latter is the act, the practice. I’d call it a spiritual practice.

So for all of you out there who struggle against your own personal odds, I wish you well in your efforts, and that you’ll stop and notice the courage you show day in and day out. It is one of the beauties of humanity.

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