I speed-read a short story collection last week, Ishiguro’s Nocturnes, which I cannot recommend. Despite that, one story in the book stuck. It was about the relationship between a cellist and his musical mentor, a woman who described herself as a virtuoso. The woman gives her protégé weeks of technical and inspirational corrections before revealing that she cannot play a cello herself. “We are both virtuosos,” she explained in pitch-perfect logic, “but my virtuosity has not been unwrapped.”
A wrapped-shut virtuoso. Does that resonate?
We dare not yet pick up our own instrument for fear of, well, everything. We are cautious, guarded, unprepared. Getting closer, we tell ourselves. Getting ready. Awaiting the moment of fulfillment, when our mastery will be revealed. In the meantime, our virtuosity is unchallenged, shielded beneath layers of tissue, inert, immobile, a precious empty ideal. Held in reserve for one day.
How to Unwrap Your Life
1. Do something you’ve been avoiding, without thinking twice.
2. This might mean that you need to mail the letter or send the proposal. It will put things in motion.
3. This might mean you need to make the call or send the resume. Go for broke.
4. This might mean that you need to tackle the hand wash cold.
5. This might mean you need to make a meal from whatever you have on hand in the kitchen, without restraint or apology.
6. This might mean a dog walk or a litter box cleaning.
7. This might mean forgetting what he said, she said, you said and everything that has been said before now.
8. No one can tell you a thing. There is no “how to do.”
9. There is only do.
10. Play as if your life depends on it. Without you, there’s no music.