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Some days you just throw up your hands in surrender. There is a time for giving up, but also a time for going on. I'm still trying to find the balance.

Submitted:Jan 25, 2014    Reads: 7    Comments: 1    Likes: 0   

I flung up my hands, as if in surrender...


There are days when the lesson begins first thing in the morning and continues to day's end. Yes, only one lesson--all day. That was today for me. I learned about surrender. And, a little about what comes after that.

In the wee hours of this morning, I pulled the clarinet out of the case. A cheaply made instrument, I had opted to make the repairs myself, instead of sending it to the instrument technician who usually handles them. The customer has no money to pay for a complete repair, so I suggested a lick and a promise, if it could be done. The bent key needed only to be returned to its original location. I have a pair of key-bending pliers, made just for such occasions.

The slight torsion I applied to the metal key was enough to break the solder joint loose, and the entire piece was suddenly hanging by a thin piece of metal slag. I gasped. I laid the clarinet back into its case.

I went home...to sleep.


My friend walked into the store and sat down. He had nothing in his hands. He didn't even look around at what was on the shelves or hanging on the walls. It was going to be one of those visits.

"People are asking me about the "Lost Gospels". What do you know about them?" It was a loaded question, leading to another and another, until finally we would speak once again about Saints versus saints and Grace versus works, and Confession versus confession. My friend is a member of the Eastern Orthodox church. I am not. He knows what I believe. I know what he believes.

Point, meet counterpoint.

Finally, I asked him if we could switch places and he would argue the evangelical side, while I espoused the orthodox doctrine. He peered at me with a quizzical look on his face.

"Why would we do that?"

I explained that it made as much sense as each of us saying the same things we had said the last time he had been in for a visit. We are both evangelists for our respective faiths. He was disappointed, but he conceded the wisdom and threw up his hands in mock surrender. We're still friends.

It wasn't exactly surrender, but more of a cease-fire--recognition of the stalemate.

The grandfather of a piano student, his resolve to await her lesson's end in his truck beaten by the cold day, wandered behind my desk chair. I looked up and nodded, an action he took as an invitation to make conversation. It wasn't, but I politely answered his remarks about the cold, with a couple of sympathetic statements of my own, quickly turning to my work once again.

He wasn't done yet.

"Yep, it's sure cold, but we really need some rain."

I almost snorted. It's January! It doesn't rain in January! I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut, but he wouldn't let it go.

"I'm serious! The lake is down four feet!"

I don't know what lake he was talking about, but it really wasn't something I was going to argue about. I just nodded my head and made a noise that could have either been a wise hmmmm of understanding or just me clearing my throat. One way or the other, I hoped he would move to a different subject.

He still wasn't done.

"We really have to have some rain soon or we'll be in real trouble!"

I'm not sure what made me do it. I think I just needed to concentrate on the project I was struggling with, so I simply asked the question that had been flitting around in my head from his first complaint about the weather, hoping it would get me some peace.

Turning around to face him, I put my hand under my chin and asked, quite seriously, "What do you think we should do about the problem?"

He sat, motionless. Then he spoke. "Well, I supp..." He looked right at me and said it, "I guess we'll just have to leave it to the Good Lord, won't we?" His hands went up in the air as he gave up ownership of the weather to the only One who could ever possibly control it.

For some reason, he didn't want to talk to me anymore. I really didn't mean to be rude. But, sometimes, you just have to quit beating your head against that solid wall in front of you and admit that there is nothing to be done about it.


She brought her guitar in last week for me to examine. Thought she only needed to have the neck adjusted. It turns out that the way she plays it has worn the metal frets on the fingerboard almost all the way through. Three years old, the guitar is. Frets usually last thirty or forty years for most people.

She came to pick up the guitar today after I worked my magic on the frets, leveling and re-crowning them. I was prepared to rail on her about the way she plays the instrument, but I thought better of it. It's her guitar; she can play it however she wants.

As she checked over my handiwork, I told her, "This is the only time we'll be able to fix the problem this way. The next time, either you have to get a new guitar, or the frets will have to be replaced completely."

She seemed sad. Momentarily, her hands started up into the air as the words I had said took effect. It was only a moment and her hands returned to pluck the strings tenderly. Then she looked at me and smiled. "I bought it to play music. I'll keep playing it 'til the music is done."

Surrender. Plus resolve.


And, the Teacher said, "Which of you, by worrying about it, can add a single hour to your life?"

I'm with the young lady. I'm here to play music. I think I'll keep playing 'til the music is done.

How about it? You want to play a verse or two with me? The day is coming when the music will be silent, but it's not done yet.

Let's play on.

You can throw your hands up in the air while the music's going, too...

"Allow yourself to let go, surrender, and breathe in the beautiful world that is waiting for you just outside your comfort zone."
(Leigh Hershkovich ~ American writer)

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."
(Victor Hugo ~ French novelist ~ 1802-1885)

© Paul Phillips. He's Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.


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