|Toasting a Potomac River|
sunset before the show
Last Saturday I had a fantastic evening filled with the flawless punctuation of notes from The National Symphony Orchestra and their world-famous, distinguished guest of honor, Sarah Chang. My wonderful date was the former student band director of Stanford University's Symphony Orchestra and is a great trumpet player. I dare to boast that he can identify nearly any jazz musician within the first measure of their song and he would definitely be my first pick of partners in musical trivia. This is essentially the perfect man to take you to the symphony - one who will appreciate it. The Arts can be a tricky destination for some. A gentleman escorted me to my favorite winter ballet, The Nutcracker, last December and it must have been either the imaginary ants in his pants or the strangulation of the top button of his dress shirt that couldn't keep that man still in his seat. Bless his heart, he managed to survive the evening, but it was sad to me that he didn't appreciate the hours of practice and the blistering toes (come on, we all saw Black Swan) that those performers had conquered to bring us an evening of entertainment.
|Violin Concerto No.1|
Running, like the Arts, is not meant for all. Some can't endure the pressure on their muscles and joints. Some find it mundane, even trite. But for those who love running, we see it for more than the repetition-of-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other facade that it appears to have. We understand the importance of every single step and how it contributes to our goals, whether they be weight loss, a decreased race time or simply its contribution to a resolved healthier lifestyle. Much like those orchestra players who become frustrated with certain notes that they can't hit, or speeds that they struggle to reach in practice, so does a runner slow after exertion, caused by anything from a side cramp to a serious injury. But when that music lover contemplates and recognizes the magnanimous effect that the entire symphony will have upon its audience, he'll continue to pluck and play until he has achieved the perfection that constitutes the essence of the piece. And if a runner hits his third mile for the first time in his life, or sees his LDL levels dropping after a physical exam, he understands that he has achieved a goal from perseverance and the sweat of every step along the way.
Sarah Chang could have missed one or two notes in the overwhelming display of scales in Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 and I'm pretty sure that no one in the audience would have noticed it. But she would. And the conductor would. And you darn well better believe that Max Christian Friederick Bruch would have noticed it from his grave. Yes, even a world-famous musician, making more money than most of us will ever attain by her age, will make mistakes. You'll have a bad day on the track, on the course, on the hill. You'll want to kick yourself for pushing too hard when things didn't turn out just the way you envisioned them. Start slow, try again. Every step, every note, gets you closer to the extraordinary feeling that will overcome you when you get it right. And whether the applause you hear is coming from the hands of 500 people in a concert hall, or is simply the beat of your own proud, bulging heart, turn around and take a look at that well-traveled road and smile. You wouldn't be here without it.