Big Magic has been on my reading list for way too long now. I’m simply going to have to get to it soon. I’m a HUGE Elizabeth Gilbert fan.
Yes, I did revisit the violin. It happened about 6 or 7 years ago. I had written a short story about a young boy living in an 18th century European city who happened to play the violin — and was a little weird about it. I decided to include the short story in a book anthology that I was putting together called, Alimaka Stories. I decided that I really, really wanted a violin on the cover of the book.
I didn’t want to use a free stock photo (like the one I used on this story). I wanted to take a photo of a violin myself. The only person I knew at the time who played the violin or even had a violin was my ex-wife’s boyfriend. So I asked him if I could borrow his violin for a day, telling him that on the front pages of the book I would acknowledge that it was his violin. He joyfully lent me his violin.
So I had a photo shoot with my friend’s violin. I must have taken 150 shots, one of which I finally used for the cover of my book. After the photography session was over I picked up the violin and held it in my hands. I was filled with a delightful tingling sensation throughout my being. It was like holding magic.
I put the violin up to my chin and picked up the bow. It felt awesome to do that. Then I started to play and nothing but godawful screeching noises came forth. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. It was actually the very first time I had ever held a violin in my hands. Holding it was great but I didn’t know the first thing about playing it. If I was a little kid I probably would have just started playing it as though it were natural and easy. But as an old geezer I was hopelessly helpless.
Still it was a wonderful experience.
As for my mother squashing my creative desires, I hold no ill will towards her. Sure, as a kid I was supremely pissed at her but now, so many years later, I have to wonder if perhaps she was unknowingly helping to steer me towards my true calling of writing. Would I ever have become a writer if I had put all my energy into playing the violin? I’ve learned that all the experiences we encounter in life can be seen from various different perspectives and the perspective we see during the experience rarely shows us the full scope of what is happening. In hindsight things can seem so much more perfect. We can see our enemies as teachers. We can see our struggles as learning lessons. And we can see that every step on our path has led us to the incredible potential found in our current NOW moment. As the novelist Tom Robbins once said, “Everything is part of it.”