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  • Writer's pictureCraig Birchfield

1/26/2013 Time Has Come Today

Professor Steven Hawkin proved mathematically that when the Universe began so did time. That is pretty interesting when you think about it. Comedian Steven Wright said that God created time so that everything didn’t happen at once. He could be correct. All that I know is that everyone has the same amount of time in a day. No matter how rich you are you can’t go down to the 1st National Time Bank and purchase a few extra hours to get all of your work done. Oh, time seems to move faster or slower at certain times. Computers seem to create temporal vortexes that just suck away time. You sit down to check your email and three hours have gone by. You wind up in the middle of a YouTube video about 19th century Peruvian Architecture and ask, “How did I get here?” Conversely, the last 20 minutes of your final shift before the weekend seems to go on for two hours. Ditto if your boss is giving you That lecture.

What does all this musing on minutes have to do with learning to play a violin? Quite a bit, actually. Since the Creator gave us the same amount of time each day we each have a decision to make about how we spend that time. In many ways it can be one of the most profound decisions we ever make. Not only do we only have 24 hours in a day but no person can know how many days they have been allotted on this celestial sphere. If we watch three hours of TV a night we will probably never write the great American novel we had always planned. If we habitually work 70 hours a week we will greatly limit the time we can spend with our families and if we play Xbox every waking hour we are not at work or in school we will never learn to play that beautiful stringed instrument we have sitting in the corner gathering dust. I know that this is life 101 and everyone should know it but I think that we need to be reminded occasionally. They say that the road to perdition is paved with good intentions. That may be a bit harsh but sometimes we need to be roused from our indifference. I know that I do. I wrote a song a while back. Some of the lyrics go:

How grand our expectations. How ephemeral our lives. If we have no plan or purpose Then our dreams will ‘ner survive. We must use the moments wisely As the hourglass leaks sand To invest our time and talents In the only things that last.

Borrowed Time ©2002 Craig Birchfield

I am not trying to be gloomy here. Life is a feast. Learning to play a violin, viola or cello can be a wonderful fulfilling experience. We have to have patience, especially when we first begin. These new skills take time. Remember how frustrating it was when you first began learning how to drive a car, especially if it was a manual transmission. Accelerate, clutch, lift the accelerator, shift – oh, oh, red light. Our driving coach was a sickly pale of green when we were done but we had our eye on the prize – the independence that comes with driving your own car. Most teens would swim a river full of piranha for that (or at least a pool full of arrogant coy). Learning to play a musical instrument is no different. I will go so far as saying that any skill worth having will take a commensurate amount of time and effort to acquire it. The greater and more valuable the skill the greater the time required. That’s why brain surgeons make the big bucks. Is it worth it? When is the last time you saw an ad like this:

Wanted: professional couch potato. Must be highly skilled at loafing around. Must have own couch. Top salary paid.

In all my many years of selling musical instruments I have heard many, many people say that they regretted not sticking with their instrument. Never once have I heard them say that the learning and practice was a waste of time. Since our time is limited why not invest it in something that will pay dividends of pleasure and accomplishment for a lifetime. One of the best motivational quotes I’ve heard is simply to Do it now or to quote the awesome rock and funk band of the 1960’s the Chambers Brothers, “Time has come today.”

Keep Practicing,

Craig Birchfield

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