Tuning

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Ironically, I’ve recently been fixated on the idea of “being ready.” I’ve been going through a transformative period over the last year-and-a-half-ish, and now I feel like I’m standing on the edge of the stage, barely obscured in the wings, and I’m about to put my foot out into the floodlights. I think we all come to several of these points in our lives, where we’re about to move forward into something different. Where we know most of the work is done, but where we need to figure out if now is really our time or if there’s just a little more preparation or refinement to do.

My friends and family know I’m a walking library of personal development, and over this last period I’m referring to, I really dug into the whole spectrum of it. I have read voraciously. I’ve journaled. I’ve meditated. I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts. I’ve explored it all, from woo-woo positive psychology manifestations to the concrete punch in the face that is classical stoicism. I’ve mentally thrown things away and I’ve tucked others into my proverbial shoe to carry daily. But now I’ve arrived at the question of when (for the moment, at least) enough is enough.

Which brings me to the idea that I’ve arrived at of “tuning.” There’s something really magical about an orchestra tuning right before a concert begins. When the audience first starts to roll into the hall, some musicians are typically on stage, checking some tricky passages, warming up, feeling the hall and generally getting ready. The sound is fascinating during this time – a mixture of chatter from the audience and wisps of the music that is to come from an ever-changing melange of instruments. Both the crowd and the instrumentalists grow in number and volume as the downbeat approaches, and the energy palpably rises with their combined forces. The glorious din, full of anticipation, reaches its climax.

The hall turns placid as announcements are made, then: silence. A heavy pause. The concertmaster emerges, and then… sound returns. Tuning.

I think tuning is a useful metaphor for this feeling of standing on the precipice. Tuning is a moment of settling, grounding, breathing, and feeling. It is a transition from work, preparation, and excitement to performance, and performance, at its best, is pure living. Collective tuning is the moment of transition from getting ready to being there. 

Lately I’ve been envisioning where I think my life is going, and feeling really great about it. But it occurred to me this morning that maybe I should just start doing all of that like, right now. So I’ve decided to think of the next indeterminate bit of time as my tuning note. The practice – the grind – is over for this phase. It’s time to get grounded, get ready, check in, and make sure my “high vibe” is resonating at just the right frequency. Then, it’s time for the music to begin. I’ll check in as I go along of course, just as musicians do, making little adjustments where necessary, leaning on others to find unity and reverberation… but the big work is done. It’s time to arrive in the space, then it’s time to live every moment. It’s time. Now where's that oboist?