I was sitting in the audience of my older sister’s violin concert bored out of my mind when my dad elbowed my ribcage and exclaimed with a harsh whisper, “Take those earphones out!” I never missed a 49ers game and didn’t want my sister’s concert to ruin it for me. After this I paid attention, and when the concert ended my mother leaned over to me and said, “You can play one of those next year if you like, but you don’t have to.” Half paying attention, I pointed to what later came known to me as a cello and said, “That one looks fun.”
I did not back away from this statement, so I started playing the cello with no real understanding as to why I played. Concerts were fun; lugging around that big hunk of wood was not. Hanging out with the violin girls was fun; practicing was not. To this day, I do not truly understand what kept me behind that instrument during the earliest of years, but I kept playing. Junior high and high school came and the songs I played became a lot more fun. The cello became a place of recreation and enjoyment. I came to play it so much for pure enjoyment that I did not realize what it actually was becoming: a part of my life and an escape from the rest of life’s responsibilities. Playing a musical instrument provides a route of escape, expressing what words and human actions can never reach. Playing cello music became my escape from school, family issues, and even rigorous baseball practices. Locking myself in my room and fiddling away produced an almost spiritual experience.
This escape was also an actual healing process. My grandfather, Papa Frank, died nine years ago and my Uncle Louie, four years. Other than my dad, these two were my closest mentors. Both passed suddenly leaving me with serious questions and doubts and talking with family members had its limitations. The only tool to calm my heart was my cello. Human words are good, reading my Bible always guides, teaches, and comforts, but the best healer I have to express my thoughts and finally deal with what life brings is God’s gift of music.
As time pressed on and college finally approached, my cello had to come. It was crammed into a tiny dorm, but it had to be there. Often my roommate would trip or knock into it. He would often jokingly exclaim, “Why couldn’t you have picked a smaller instrument?!” But, not a chance would I give up my healing tool. Living away from home provided many challenges, namely helping with past and present family issues over the phone, not to mention the already chaotic college life. Yet time and time again playing my cello brought about feelings of release and contentment.
Playing an instrument provides great comfort and solace, expressing what words cannot. Though the original intent may be for pure enjoyment, I believe in the power of playing an instrument for healing, contentment, and calming purposes. Now when I play in my own concerts, I remember my sister’s so many years ago and am thankful for noticing that cello.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.