This past Tuesday, after 3 weeks absence for a number of professional and personal reasons, I went to my community bands rehearsal. A number of interesting things that happened. During my absence, I had been working diligently on my on getting my warm up to a good shape and I strongly feel that my playing has significantly improved due to this. And yet, when I started the rehearsal I was struggling. One thing that I notice immediately was that I was playing sharp which almost never happened. I was also struggling to get my sound out. It took me awhile but I finally realized what was wrong. I guess being back in that environment, I was playing the way that I was used to play before my intense scales arpeggios Etc regimen. One’s mind can be quite powerful and weak at the same time. I was unwillingly taken to some place due to the environment that I was in and it made me play in the way that I was used to playing before I fixed those bad habits. I was shocked at how much just being in a certain place that had a past association with could drastically affect me and my playing in my thoughts.
In another instance during the rehearsal, I played a piece that I played back when I was a freshman in high school. Not necessarily a tough piece, but what ended up happening was that I was making a lot of same mistakes that I made early on when I was learning that piece. Again, being taken to an earlier place and in one way, we living past traumas. Now my meditation practice has been quite strong this year, the strongest it’s been since my college days. I am now up to meditating at least an hour a day. One would think that my mind has become a lot stronger more present and more mindful but situations like these show that I still have a long way to go. I know it was a cliché but today was quite humbling and I’m going to try to take it as a great learning experience and feel grateful for that and learn from it and move on accordingly and positively.
It wasn’t all negative. I unwittingly had exercised the 4th precept and it seemed to just flow effortlessly. There was one person in the band that I had seen at a clarinet symposium recently. There, he noticed that I was quite close to a number of the prominent clarinet players and teachers that were at that conference. I was well-connected in his words and he wanted to know my story. Normally, this alone would make my day and I would feel flattered, sometimes even fish for more compliments but this time I didn’t. I said sure that I would love to tell him my story but one thing I can say right now is that the reasons why I am good friends with them are not as clarinet related as you might think they would be you gave me a puzzle look and then he nodded. So had I not said anything or fish for compliments I wouldn’t have been lying which the fourth precept is about but there are other layers to the fourth precept. False speech also includes a number things like boasting or speaking ill of someone because they our actions that only reveal small part of the truth of what one is saying. If you’re using speech to are officially employed yourself or to denigrate someone else, that is a violation of the fourth precept. In this instance, I felt compelled to tell him that, yeah yeah there’s an interesting story there but it’s not because I’m great clarinet player or something. I am quite content with how I handled myself in this interaction in the context of the fourth precept and I look forward to more opportunities throughout this week and of course throughout the rest of my life.