While on a retreat last weekend I heard a story about the renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, and it has stuck in my mind since then.
You can read the whole beautiful story here.
Or, to summarize: Perlman had polio as a child, and getting on and off stage for his performances often involved a slow and painful walk and many adjustments of his leg braces. During a show in New York, after one such long and slow walk with all the adjustments, one of his violin strings broke just as he had started to play.
Instead of walking offstage to get a new string and put it back on, he played the entire piece on three strings, tuning and making adjustments as he went.
After the piece was over, the audience was cheering and ecstatic.
Izhak Perlman said, simply:
“You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”
If that was all I’d gotten out of the entire weekend retreat, I would have left with something truly inspiring and useful to me.
I spend a lot of time thinking about what I can’t do because of my illness. That’s natural, I think.
And I’m not the only one. Most of us are playing on only 3 strings at different times in our lives. Sometimes the nature of that “3-stringedness” changes, too. A tragic loss. An injury. Depression.
But, if I can learn to readjust those remaining strings gradually, and look for music wherever I can, then maybe I’ll notice that missing string just a little bit less.