I’ve heard of giving with no strings attached, but strumming with no strings attached …… unless you’re playing Guitar Hero, it’s going to be a challenge.
I’ve been thinking about what it means to live with no strings attached; giving yourself fully to each moment with no expectation that your efforts are going to be rewarded, or even noticed, planning your next steps with no certainty of the outcomes, pouring yourself into a cause without knowing where it will take you or if it’s going to be effective.
Human character and ingenuity are incredible. There are so many strings on the bow of your resourcefulness. You can pluck at the heart strings of change with the flair of a maestro, weaving your way through the score of life. And yet a great deal of what takes place is beyond your control, and it’s in the moments when a string breaks that your true character is revealed. It’s in these times that you discover how attached you are to your strings and stories, and how flexible you are to play on anyway.
There is a famous story, untrue according to Snopes, but powerful in any case, about the Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman.
Itzhak hobbled on stage and performed his nightly ritual of adjusting his leg braces, reminders of a childhood bout of polio, placing his crutches on the floor, positioning the violin under his chin and cueing the conductor. The first couple of bars went according to plan, but soon it was clear that he had broken one of his four strings. The audience imagined that he would now have to reattach his braces and hobble off stage, but instead Itzhak closed his eyes for a moment, prepared himself and nodded the conductor to continue. He played beautifully, mesmerizing the audience, recomposing the piece in his mind, defying the assumption that it’s not possible to play a violin with three strings.
Acceptance defies the assumption that things have to be perfect in order for you to participate. Acceptance gives you the freedom to be all you can be and do your best in any situation. Make beautiful music with what you’ve got. Use the words you can find. Live with all the skill you can muster. Throw yourself into the concerto of change with no strings attached, and maybe even with a broken string or two. It’s more than enough. You are more than enough. Like Itzhak Perlman, your passion and perseverance will carry their own inspiration beyond the purity of your performance.
Try this visualization to build the sort of flexibility that can only come with the gift of acceptance.
Picture yourself as a beautiful harp. Your shapely beauty is matched by your ancient, healing wisdom. You have an incredible blend of gentleness and strength. Your subtle sounds are held in a frame that is robust and commanding. Hands near your heart, play yourself like a harp. Let the reverberations of the strings run through your body, from head to toe. Let them fill every part of you, waking places that may have gone to sleep from long years of disconnect. Spreading healing energy throughout your body, shake your fingers out and feel the tingle of stale energy leaving your body.
When you are ready, become aware of the thoughts in your mind and feelings in your body. Just sit with them, with no judgment. Picture each thought, feeling, assumption, memory and story swirling in and around you. Some pass right through the space between the strings of the harp, and glide on by. Notice what passes you by but don’t chase it. You have no need for them right now. Other thoughts and feelings hit the strings, striking a chord that sounds way back to your past, bringing up old hurts and unresolved pain. You don’t even know where some of the hurt is coming from. Don’t strain. Just notice what’s sticking. Rather than battle against it, let it be, integrate it, and let it become part of your unique music.
Your mind, body and spirit have healing power in the same way that some musicians play by ear. You only need to listen, and the answers are all there. Accept all that arises without judgment. It’s all a gift as you improvise your way through change. It’s all making you wiser and stronger. Accept it all.
You have the inner acceptance to live your harp’s desire. Give thanks for your unique music which is unfolding in just the right beat and time, broken strings, wrong notes, and all. You’ve got the world on a string, sitting on a rainbow. You’ve got the string around your finger. What a world. What a life. You’re in love.