'What's going on in there?' is what I wondered as I watched the students of our piano teacher's studio perform in the Holiday Recital. Their focus was intense-- eyes fixed on the sheet of music, or on the piano keys, or alternating between them, depending on whether more trust was placed in their memory of the notes on the page or the position of their hands over the keys. Despite the concentration, no brows were furrowed, no torsos were tense, no jaws were clenched. (A few tongues did show themselves, likely without knowledge of their owners.) Without exception, as the final note of each piece was played, the performer managed a show of relief and satisfaction--a small smile, a glance at a parent, a long exhale--well-deserved, for certain.
I'm not sure why I was so taken by the intense focus shown by these musicians. Perhaps it was because some were so young. Perhaps it was because some were teenagers. Perhaps it was because there were so many distractions in the room (latecomers arriving, a man coughing, a baby cooing). Perhaps it was because it seems to me that people don't seem that invested in anything today. And yet the focus was intense.
As I watched and listened, I found my own interest intense. The music was lovely, even with some errant notes and uneven counting. Yet it was still magical and brilliant, certainly because the passion put into it was so obvious. The passion of the musicians was felt not only in the music they made, but also in their focus, in their ability to allow themselves to be completely in the moment until the last note sounded. It was a gift for me to also be completely in the moment, to focus on the beauty of the music, while letting go of the distractions--those in the room and those awaiting me outside of the room when it ended.
May we allow our focus to be on the present moment--enjoying it for what it is, despite its imperfections, letting go of distraction--and to feel the joy for the life we have been given.
author of "JOY"