In 2016 I went wide.
I discovered Gary Vaynerchuk, Katy Bowman, Fifth House Ensemble, Mary Oliver, and Solange. I attended the seanwes conference. I spoke at the American String Teachers Association conference. I premiered six new pieces. Wrote over 60 reflections for this website. I took classes on the music of the caribbean, violin pedagogy, Music Mind Games, orchestration, Brahms and Peacemaking Rhetoric. I started new students; I moved into my third year of teaching others. I found myself in Washington D.C., Dallas, Houston, Chicago, San Marcos, San Francisco, coastal Maine, Minnesota, and Boston. I even bought a pair of heels.
I cast the net wide. I learned a lot. I did a lot. It was a lot.
There were some times I felt like I was on fire, doing better and living better than I ever had before. There were times I felt I was strapped to the front of a steam-engine hurtling down tracks, out of my control, at record speeds. Those times were exhilarating, and terrifying. And still, there were some times that I felt utter disappointment and frustration. I grieved deeply for what I could have done better.
But since the fall semester wrapped up three weeks ago, I’ve had the luxury of relaxing and restoring in my small hometown in the hill country. I’ve had the opportunity to sleep in, write, reflect, read, and for lack of a better word… chill.
But most importantly, I experienced the release, one by one, of the burden from each commitment in my life. Orchestra was finished, then orchestration, then pedagogy and rhetoric. I performed my jury and stepped away from my violin. I wrapped up recording sessions with Light Horse Harry, finished teaching my last lessons with students, and delivered the last of my secret santa gifts. And now I don’t have work I have to do. I don’t have any emails I have to send. I don’t have any calls I have to make. I’m resting.
This rest has given me clarity. And tonight, as one year ends and another begins, I move into a new year with the experience of a wide 2016, but hope for a focused 2017.
See, in the space of winter break I experienced the desire, or perhaps the need, to do just four things:
- practice violin
- practice teaching
- journal my process.
I want 2017 to be the year for me that embodies essentialism. I want it to be a daring year in which I experiment with focus, with space, with prioritization, and with authenticity. I want to be with the ones I love, and I want to do the work I love. No more and no less than that.
I’ll dial in on the four pillars in my life– healing, practicing violin, practicing teaching, and journaling– not as a militant mandate, but as a question. I wonder if I would be happier “doing” less. I wonder what would happen if I dove even deeper into understanding the things I love – my self, my relationships, my work. I wonder.
On the bookshelf in our library at home is a book by and about Le Corbusier, the early 20th century artist, architect and thinker. It is a self portrait of text and illustration titled Creation is a Patient Search. The pages that fill this beautiful book tell the story of the slow, patient journey Le Corbusier took to creation.
Though I’ve dedicated 2017 to wondering, it is just one patient step closer to myself. Sometimes my search will lead me wide. Sometimes my search will lead me deep. This year it will lead me deeply into to the few things I love most. Happy New Year!