Three Strings

Sep. 26, 2017 at 12:14pm

There is a story told about Itzhak Perlman, the famous violinist, who was playing in New York. Stricken with polio as a child, he always crossed the stage on crutches, moving painfully and laboriously. On this particular night, he reached the chair, sat down, slowly put his crutches on the floor, and undid the clasps on his legs. Then he bent to pick up the violin, put it under his chin, nodded to the conductor, and began to play. 

But something went wrong. Just as he finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin snapped. The audience thought he would have to get up and leave the stage, not an easy thing for him, but he didn’t. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes, and then signaled the conductor to begin again. 

The orchestra started up, and he played from where he had left off. Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. I know it, and you know it, but that night Itzhak Perlman refused to know it. The music was beautiful. When he finished, there was an awestruck silence in the room. Then the audience erupted in cheers. He smiled, wiped the sweat from his brow, raised his bow to quiet the crowd, and said, “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.” 

I’m not certain that this story is true, but that doesn’t matter to me. I have found so much power in the thought, “ how much music you can still make with what you have left?” These words have stayed with me since I heard the story for the first time because in a way, they are the essence of successful living in an unpredictable world: doing the best you can with all that you have, and then, when that is no longer possible, with what you have left.


Posted in Health Info by Joe

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