This I Believe

Peter - Evanston, Illinois
Entered on November 1, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

“Embracing an Eternal Creativity”

I believe that there is worth in playing the cello. The simple intentionality of practice demonstrates the importance of artistic pursuit, and expresses the possibility of a more creative appreciation of our role as artists on this earth.

When I practice today, I can feel the smooth hardness of a callus on my left thumb. It comes from playing with my hand over the fingerboard of the instrument, in what is called “thumb position.” Learning to play in thumb position is painful because it requires pressing down the cello’s hard, steel strings with just the side of the left thumb. Forming a protective callus takes a lot of time and practice. This pea-sized spot of hardened skin has no practical application outside of playing the cello, but the seeming imperfection reminds me of the hours that I have spent practicing and improving. For most, this subtle feature of my left hand goes unnoticed, but to me it symbolizes a certain achievement. It is a physical expression of my dedication to the cello.

However unlikely it sounds, I have also grown to have a personal attachment to my cello. In a certain sense, it is one of the strongest and most meaningful relationships that I have found. If tallied, the hours spent with only my cello as company would easily rival the hours spent with most individuals that I have grown to know over my lifetime. This isn’t to say that our relationship is perfect. We do occasionally argue about matters of intonation, tempo, or articulation, but the result is always a fuller understanding of the nuances, capabilities, and aspirations of both my instrument and myself.

Playing the cello has even colored the way I view myself as an emotional being. A carefully vibrated note or a new, unexpected harmony can call upon emotions that have nothing to do with my present situation. Despair, optimism, sheer joy, unfulfilled longing. There is a transcendent quality to music that affirms our most basic and human desires for something that approaches an artistic spirituality, a grounding in something more than the present or tangible.

It may seem far-fetched to argue that playing the cello can achieve this sort of creative enlightenment. I don’t mean to imply that the cello is the right choice for everyone. My conviction is that, for me, a dedication to the cello has allowed a more meaningful acknowledgement of my natural desire for an artistic presence in this world.

We are fundamentally creative beings. If there is one request I will make it is that we, being first summoned into this world by the ultimate, divine creativity, now repay this action in the ways that we see fit.

I believe in the cello as my means of appreciating the creative and eternal in my life.