(This week is the seventh installment of the book, “The Band Director’s Lessons About Life”, which TCRN is publishing as a series during 2020. This week, band director and spiritual author Donald Lee relates a parable about seeing things as they really are. For a complete listing of previous episodes in this series, click here.)
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE
(Eighteenth-century German writer and statesman)
“I’d like to join band, Mr. Lee, but I don’t know anything about music,” Fred admitted bashfully.
“That doesn’t matter. You join band to learn about music. I’ll teach you. That’s what I’m here for. What instrument would you like to play?”
Fred was a grade-ten student who’d never been in a band before. We are always short of players in every section and in every grade. Small school, small band program. Fred could have chosen pretty much any instrument and I’d have found a place for him.
“I’ve always wanted to play the drums,” he said with a slight smile.
“That’s perfect. I happen to need percussionists. I’ll teach you. You can start by playing the easy percussion instruments, like the bass drum. At the same time, I’ll get you started on the snare drum. As your skills develop, I’ll give you harder parts. Eventually you will learn to play all the percussion instruments.”
“Really? I don’t know if I can do it,” Fred backpedaled. Maybe I’d come on too strongly.
“You can do it. Everyone starts at zero—at the beginning. I’ve had lots of high school students take up an instrument for the first time.”
“I don’t have any drums, and my parents can’t afford to buy them.” Fred turned away.
Maybe it was true. Maybe Fred was looking for a way out. I pounce on students who show even a tiny bit of interest. I wasn’t about to let him go that easily.
“That’s no problem. I’ll lend you a drum practice pad you can use at home. You can also come to the band room any lunchtime and play the drums here. I even have a drum set in that practice room over there. You can play to your heart’s content.” Fred looked in the direction I’d pointed.
At Glenmary School, we can’t fit high school band rehearsals in the regular daily schedule. We have our rehearsals before school: an hour-long rehearsal, three days a week, before everyone else arrives. This is a problem for rural kids who don’t always have a means of getting to school before their busses.
“What part of town do you live in?” I asked.
“I live in the north end,” he replied.
“Great. So, you could walk to school if you had to?” I tried to sound encouraging. Kids these days don’t always want to walk, even a few blocks. There are busses for almost everyone.
“Uh, well, I don’t know,” he stumbled. “I ride the bus.”
“It’s just that our band rehearsals are before school: 7:45 to 8:45, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Is that a problem for you?” I asked.
“Uh, maybe?” Fred waffled. Most students start out with just a vague desire—a little spark that needs to be gently fanned into a robust flame of musical passion. I hoped I wasn’t blowing so hard I put it out.
“Could one of your parents drop you off at school? On their way to work, perhaps?” I did my best to sound hopeful.
“Well, maybe. I could ask.” That was positive enough for me.
“Great. Why don’t you talk to your parents about your interest in joining the band and playing the drums? Tell them I’m happy to have you join us. How about you come to see me at lunchtime tomorrow, and I’ll give you your first lesson on the snare drum?” A little sales experience earlier in my life taught me to always close the sale.
It doesn’t matter what you know right now. It matters what you want to learn. It doesn’t matter where you are right now. It matters where you are going. It doesn’t matter who you are right now. It matters who you are going to become. In this stage of preparation, you need to decide on your spiritual goals or ideals. Who do you want to become?
Life is about becoming. Our spiritual journey means movement, change, and growing into something greater than we are right now. Because we are spiritual beings infused into animal bodies, we can raise ourselves higher than angels or drag ourselves lower than animals. It’s our choice. We call it free will. It’s up to us to make the most of it.
Our spiritual destiny is to grow into the “Christ Consciousness”—to regain our oneness with God like Jesus did. Jesus said we could and should become like him. He set himself as an example for us. He said, “In all truth, I tell you, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, and will perform even greater works” (Jn 14:12). Jesus meant it. He also said, “May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us” (John 17:21).
Our destiny is oneness with God. If we aim our spirit in God’s direction, it doesn’t matter where we are right now.
It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are right now. Life is about becoming. What do you want to become? Set your sights high.
Donald Lee is a spiritual author and speaker. This article is part of a weekly series for 2020 in which TCRN is publishing his inspirational book, The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle, in serial form – one parable per week. You can learn more about the author at his website: www.ComingHomeSpirit.com, or order a copy of his complete book on Amazon.