Saturday, March 14, 2009

Making the World a Better Place

Emily, the Stark Raving Cellist offered up a list of five things that can make the world a better place, which are well worth sharing here:
1) When turning right, move to the far right side of the lane. That way people going straight don't have to stop or miss the light.

2) Never, ever litter. Not an ATM receipt, cigarette butt, napkin or straw. Consider making each place you visit better in some small way. Sometimes I wipe down a wet counter so the next person doesn't lean against it and get soaked.

3) When you're about to explode, implode, or unleash a storm of wrath or blame, don't. Now is your chance to create something better. My life was changed when a very old man who was not paying attention turned right into my path, causing me to swerve and half spin. My car stopped, his car stopped, and I was about to give him one of those "What the bleepity bleep are you doing??" gestures, when he pressed his palms together and bowed. Totally changed everything. It was not on purpose. We are lucky to be alive, even if our lives are peppered with car crashes and people not paying attention all the time. The unhappiest person I know constantly repeats the same pattern: indignation, blame, explosion, victimhood. It's not working out so well. That old man in the purple Cadillac presented me with a different way to do business.

4) Do nice things for strangers. Pay for their drink at the coffee place. Offer a smile in traffic. Go down the list of disagreeable people in your life and try to muster empathy for them. Think of it as seasoning the soup of daily life with a little bit of goodness. It makes it taste better for everyone.

5) You are an example to the children around you. Be a good one, and be around. My continuing experience with kids is worrisome. Never before have I seen such desperation for discipline, direction, conversation and relationships. Love is not a trip to the Mac store or expensive sneakers. It's an investment of your time. And as it turns out, that is making an investment in yourself, too. One that lasts.
The last one I find particularly resonant. So much of teaching is, on the part of the young (and older) people who study music, the need for someone to listen, care, and respond to their needs, musical and otherwise. Music is a "ladder of escape" for a lot of young people: a way to express themselves, a way to communicate that doesn't involve "fitting in," and often a way to have some kind constant identity in the ever-turbulent life of children making their way through the rocky path to adulthood. I am grateful for the parents who understand the importance of the relationship between a private teacher and his or her student. They know that it is about so much more than "just" music.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Thanks for the mention! We should do a joint-post some time. I always get a lot from your blog. :)