REposted from December, 2010
A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to go to a concert that my students were playing at in my hometown: Band-o-Rama. In my yesteryear, this same concert was the backbone of every winter from grades 4-12. Driving to the concert, I got that nervous pit in my stomach of going to a place where you haven't been for a long time, not knowing and wondering if it had changed or perhaps even wondering and acknowledging that I had changed, and that the course of life had taken me to routes unforseen from the fourth grader I once was.
As I found a seat perched high in the bleachers, I took in the scene: each band set in configured arcs buzzing with nervous players settling into this new medium, -to the veterans in the back who had been through the whole diametric range of shifting from one space to another year after year. After seeing the lay of the land, I started to pick out the faces that I knew and teared up as I saw the very person that started me on the whole trek through music- Mr. McLellan. It was easy to pick him out from the crowd on the floor. His springy step and professional air was contagious and his problem-solving and incredible scope of the whole room was so readily apparent. This man, I realized, was my first mentor. He saved my life. Literally. Breathe Sharon, breathe. As the haze from my eyes started to clear, I saw each of my students in their respective grade levels and chairs and became overwhelmed with a sense of pride of where they had come from when I first started with each of them, to where they were now. It continually amazes me what every year brings forth.
The rumbles of the fourth grade band stirring into action woke me from my reverie. Raw and squwaky, they made their way through. The fifth graders, with more proficiency, were like a pack of wild horses wanting to blast out of their seats. As the grades progressed, the playing got better and better and at certain points, I could hear where the proficiency was holding them back and where in the later grades, it was a tool to be able to help them express fully.
What struck me was witnessing the progression and seeing the possibilities that the fourth graders were shown, and the perspective that the grades after had of looking back. All in all, the bands were together starting the concert and ending the concert, and no matter how green or advanced they were, they were all there, creating music together. This made me think about entering a room of yogis and witnessing the magic that a room of people from all different backgrounds, days, and levels provides. During a ninety minute class, each person's tempo of practice as well as proficiency might be different, however, we begin the practice together and end it together united by breathe, movement and emotion. In essence, we are all mirrors lending us to look at where we have come from, where we are at present, and where we can go.
Life lessons have a funny way of showing up and waving their hands at you. In my case, I saw the conductor, my mentor from my past waving his arms to conduct, yet it was also that elegant sweep in a four beat pattern that reminded me that the longevity of this man's profession was the passion and love of his job, -the internal knowing of the vital importance to bring a life line to these students to express love, anger, joy and angst. Likewise, as a newer teacher of yoga, I feel a constant student wobbling my way through, where sometimes the spurts of growth can be like a wild and wonderful rollercoaster ride and at other times, the path gets cluttered and it is easy to lose my way.
As I was heading up to Boston this week, I was feeling tired and cranky and my partner gave me a hug and a kiss and said, "ok, honey, it is time to go up there and do your important work". Something about this statement made me do a double-take and the whole ride up was a teary mash-up filled with so much gratitude of remembering to be tender, patient and kind to myself and give space to have the perspective of noting where I came from, where I am now, and where I have yet to travel. So, renewed, I find myself wide-eyed and ready to always be a student of the possibilities ahead. Thank you John McLellan for being my constant mentor and source of inspiration, this work is of vital importance. Thanks you for the reminder.