I often perceive things in philosophical terms — how about you?
I mean, it’s a blessing and a curse, because on one hand this enables me to see colors where someone else sees only grey, but on the other hand, sometimes — too much color!
Well, I can’t help it either way, and this week I saw something in the Forums that made me think. Oy vey…more about that in a minute, but for now:
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Last night I had a great experience — I played the Cash Flow board game with an old violin student of mine. It was just the two of us. He beat me rather bad. The kid was buying up houses with zero down and shares at $1 and $5 (my boy), while I was busy procreating (3 times), and getting downsized (twice). I’ll tell you what — it’s a good thing I play much, much better in reality than I did in the game, or I might have had to move my family into my dear friend Brandon Turner’s basement by now…
But back to my student. I’ve known Sam for many years. Sam is a very talented person. He was, for a long time, my star violin pupil. The thing about Sam was that he didn’t come to me until rather late in the game; he was 8 years old when I started teaching him, which is quite old for a violin student.
You see, violin is not only a mental, but a kinesthetic skill which requires a student’s mind and physiology to mold itself in all kinds of ways in order to accommodate the learning of the skill.
Well, the earlier a student begins the process, the more likely that this process will see a successful outcome. Why? Because our minds and our bodies become conditioned — I would even say “jaded” — the longer we experience the world. Both the brain and the muscles lose their elasticity as time goes on, and the bones harden and become too rigid to adapt to anything other than what they are.
Once this process of hardening of mind and body reaches a critical stage, it becomes impossible to learn the skill of violin because both the mind and the physiology stop being sufficiently pliable. This is why we typically start kids on the violin at the age of 4; Sam was 8 when he came to me!
For this reason, the learning process for him was far less natural and far more painful than it should have been, and the only reason he had done as well as he had was because was because he had decided that this was the way it was gonna be! Sam wanted to play the violin, and he was going to work as hard as he needed to.
This seems an appropriate moment to segue back to the post on the forums that I alluded to earlier. Wendell De Guzman started a discussion titled If You Can Invent a Time Machine – What Will You Tell Your Younger Self so You Won’t Make the BIG Real Estate Mistake.
I thought it was an extremely important question, although I figured Wendell himself had answered it unknowingly. My comment to this was: “start sooner.”
My thinking is — most mistakes can be fixed, so long as there’s time to fix them. And if it’s true that the more BIG mistakes we make, the better we become, then time is the only limiting factor. Truly, the only mistake which cannot be fixed is missed time itself — once it’s gone, it’s gone! And then there is the issue of the hardening of the brain…
I am likely much more cognizant of time and its impact on my decision-making process than most people reading this. One reason is that I am a musician and teacher by trade, and time, as I hope to have illustrated, is of the essence. But also, the diagnosis of MS likely has something to do with this…
Time — Loss of Time, to be precise, is the only mistake from which lessons cannot be applied in the future. And thus my comment on Wendell’s thread – if I were to do anything differently, I’d start sooner!
Do you ever contemplate the repercussions of lost time? What would your answer be to Wendell’s question?
Join in on the comments below!