For most of my life, really…as far back as I can remember…I have dreamed of playing a stringed instrument. Violin, guitar, what-have-you, they all have seemed so beautiful and unreachable to me. Growing up, I played piano and clarinet. Strings were not an option at my school. But, for the past couple of years, I have found myself fantasizing about playing Cello. We would go to concerts and I would be drawn to the cellists, the sound of the instrument, the grace of the bow, the posture of the musicians. As an alto vocally, the Cello spoke to me because it is always that steady low voice that stabilizes the chord. Though often not in the spotlight singing lead, when it does take center stage…wow.
So last week we went to another concert and I watched a young bass player named Scott Mulvahill ROCK OUT. I mean, really. Who would have thought a standing bass could do what he makes it do? But it does and he obviously has so much fun on that stage. (Look him up on YouTube. He is amazing!)
We drove home after the concert and I mulled over my feelings and longings once again. I’m 45, y’all. Not exactly a young thang anymore. Many might think I’m too old to start something big and new.
I decided to disagree with that.
Early the next morning I drove to a music store in a daze of mid-life crisis and desperate longing. I parked my Ford Explorer and looked at the doors of Music & Arts, the sign saying “open” and my heart racing. I summoned up my courage, walked into the store and looked at the young man who greeted me.
“I’d like to rent a Cello.” (Did I really just say that out loud?)
“Is this for you?” he asked kindly.
I am probably old enough to be his mother.
I swallowed hard and broke out into a cold sweat. A COLD SWEAT. I am not exaggerating ONE BIT.
“Yes,” I said calmly. “Yes, it is. I’m having a mid-life crisis and I want to learn to play the Cello.” (Yes, I really said that. Insert forehead smack here.)
He smiled (I can only IMAGINE what he was thinking) and said, “Ok, well…”
And we proceeded to look around, discussing lesson options and logistics. Then it turned out that they had a beautiful Cello ON SALE and buying (instead of renting) would save me thousands of dollars over the course of the next few years so…
I BOUGHT IT.
I bought, not rented, a cello.
It was like saying, “I do. Til death do us part.”
But with a bow instead of a diamond.
I own the baby and it is MINE.
The salesman tuned it for me and put it in its case. I looked at it longingly, afraid to even touch it just yet. It is just so beautiful. And it is mine.
I set up the payment plan and bought a beginner book and tuner, though I didn’t know the first thing about tuning a Cello. (What were the names of the strings again?) I carried it to my car and willed myself to breathe normally as I drove home, completely shocked at what I had just done.
Oh, glory. The moment I pulled Sofia out of her case (Yes, I named my Cello. Don’t judge.) I felt this JOY course through my veins. I pulled the bow across the strings and, despite the scratchiness, to me it sounded beautiful…like something I had waited my entire life to hear. The vibrations that resonate through the Cello when it is leaned back against my chest as I play are like balm. They calm me despite the fumbling and hiccups as I learn to hold the bow and draw it straight across the strings. I have found a teacher (Sarah Joy) via YouTube and practice every single day, loving each and every minute of it. My fingertips are becoming calloused and the sound is coming along.
I can play Mary Had a Little Lamb!
And Jingle Bells!
There is something so satisfying and rewarding about working through that beginner book and the videos one day at a time. It is in enjoying the process, seeing progress from day-to-day, that I have hope to be making real music a year from now. (Does this NOT have endless spiritual parallels???) Maybe over the summer I’ll take lessons from a real, face-to-face teacher when we are not in the throes of homeschooling. But regardless, I love it.
I absolutely love it.
Listen, you are never too old to try something new. I’m realizing that it is really good for my children to see me do this, to hear my squeaks and squawks and see me fight to create beauty through this challenging instrument. And it’s good for me. I had this dream and it wasn’t going anywhere. I believe God wants this for me and I could not be more excited. I’m praying for Him to give me the ability to do this and do it well for His glory. What a gift it would be to sit near the back of the stage during worship, accompanying the beautiful choruses with the melancholy alto of my Cello! That is my goal.
I’m 45 years old and just beginning. By the time I am 50 I’ll be so glad I didn’t wait any longer.
What are YOU waiting for? What keeps you from plunging in and going for it? What if you started today? Now?
Because, let me tell you, every time I take that bow in my hand I feel JOY. Pure, simple joy.
It is going to be a good journey. I can feel it.