Acceptance- No Strings Attached

October 25th, 2011

This ad was posted on Craig’s List-  “Broken guitar for sale – no strings attached.”

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.

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  1. Margaret says:

    An inspiration to read and a challenge to live this way Ian

  2. Selena says:

    Excellent analogy.  “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.” 

    Thank you for this.

  3. Phillip Smith says:

    Out of respect for the source of what I was told the following, I won’t mention it, However, during work today I was talking  , of how God is revealed through science. This source, told me that if I was to be authentically Christian, I shouldn’t believe in science, namely, in this case, evolution, or else I was “going to hell”. I thought to myself:” Ok, whatever”. Sadly, as passionate a Christian that I am, I guess this can be the problem when there are “strings attached”, when the Christian faith (or any other, for that matter), is reduced to a set of requirements and rewards. “No, the Lord has told us  with your God”(Micah
    what is good. What he requires of us is this: to act justly, show constant love, and to walk in humble fellowship with your God”(Micah 6:8).

  4. One of the most enlightening pieces I’ve read in recent times. Thank you. 

  5. ian says:

    thanks Phoebe

  6. Joanna says:

    Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful! What LOVEly analogies, and at the perfect moment. I believe in synchronicity, and this certain is for me.
    Thank you so much for the Harp visualization. I can feel the music moving through me.
    I’m energized to be off making the beautiful music of my harp’s desire. 🙂
    Love, Light, & Laughter!

  7. Nikhil says:

    Very enriching. Very inspiring. Very touching.

    May God produce more of your breed. 

  8. ian says:

    thanks Nikhil

  9. coachinu says:

    Speachless. You kept me reflecting on your words and the beauty that they represent.
    Absolutely, acceptance is key for a fulfilling and happy live. I love how you have used the violin metaphor.
    This is the first time that I read one of your posts and I will certainly come back for more.
    Thanks for making this time present.   

  10. Sophia Grace says:

    Interestingly, I just wrote a piece about being happy with where you are NOW instead of wishing for perfections for your life, waiting to be happy.
    And then I saw this post tweeted!  Must be a note from the universe.

  11. Phillip Smith says:

    Also interstingly, in the sermon at my local Anglican Church this morning our sermon also focussed on Christian joy, and Advent and Christmas being a time for joy, exuberance, and excitement, as we live the promises of justice for the poor and dispossessed, and indeed for all humankind. Far from the way the story is traditionally told, namely an elsewhere God “breaking into our world, telling us to be on our guard, or else!!) mentality, but rather on joy, justice, mercy and compassion for the poor and dispossed, the marginal, as well as restoration for a damaged Earth. This rings true whether one is Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or whatever. Good one, Ian! Thanks!

  12. […] this visualization to prepare for The […]

  13. Amy says:

    Thank you. I’ve never visited this website before, never read a post… Somehow I clicked here, saw the harp, and read. I let it sink in, thankful for the timing and this perfect visualization. I am a harpist and felt it speak directly to me.

  14. ian says:

    Awesome Amy- glad you found it and glad it resonated.

  15. ohjay says:

    This is great, just what I needed. I keep wishing i was something else instead of accepting what ive got.

  16. Chante says:

    thankAt thank you for writing this and posting it for at 4:30 am Dec. 29, 2012 I am comforted, touched & wiser because of reading your words, they made me cry they were that powerful. It was pleasantly unexpected & I found this article to be the best I’ve read on a very long time! Thank you again! I believe it was meant for me to read now & any earlier in time I wouldn’t have got the same  out of it  that’s is much needed now anyway.

  17. Ramona says:

    Timeless words,  eloquently written.  Far reaching implications.   Thanku. 

  18. Thank you for this beautifully written piece. Acceptance of ourselves and others is the key to living a peaceful life. Live and let live and love yourself and others. Everyone is facing battles and challenges in life, and I believe those challenges are put before us to learn the way to be with each other. If we work towards accepting our selves where we are while acknowledging our own short-comings, we will then be able to love others unconditionally. Peace!!

  19. C.J. Dreamer says:

    Well, what if your unique music is unpleasant? 

  20. Chima Obi Onuigbo says:

    Ian, your piece is highly inspirational and full of wisdom. It has the potential of healing a wound and affecting destines. Your readers would be motivated to do more after reading your piece. Your intention is achieved. Well done!

  21. Catherine says:

    This is such a lovely and inspiring piece. As a mindfulness teacher, who works primarily with people who struggle with food and weight issues, the issue of acceptance comes up with my clients over and over again. Until they reach a place of acceptance, they are in a constant battle with themselves and life. Acceptance allows us to flow with the current of life and that flow, if we trust it, will take us where we need to go.Thanks for my inspiration today! 

  22. Amy says:

    Ian,I have been reading your words of wisdom for quite some time now. This one today really resonated to me. It was exactly what I was suppose to be reading. Thank you!

  23. Marisol Bermudez says:

    You always point in the right way. Your words are the medicine I need to heal my heart and soul.

  24. […] Acceptance- No Strings Attached ( […]

  25. Great article.  It’s good to be reminded of the healing power we already have within us.  We spend way too much time looking outside ourselves for what we already have.  “Oz never did give nothing to the tin man”…

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