My yoga teacher training instructor shared some wisdom from her mentor with me a few weeks ago. It has stuck with me, ringing truth into my ears ever since:
Each of us play a note in the orchestra of life – of the world, both physical and spiritual, that surrounds us. Our work is to play our note, really, really freakin’ well.
Okay, this may not be a verbatim quote…but the essence is there.
It is not our work to conduct the orchestra, or worry about what piece we’re playing, or worry about the notes other people are playing. It’s only our job to play the note we’ve been given.
The wisdom that I pull from this, especially at this time in my life, is one about purpose, meaning, and maybe even about destiny. It’s about noticing what I do best – writing, holding space for others, and making a mean risotto – and noticing the roles that life has offered me – mom to my kids, wife to my husband, doula, coach – and trusting that I have been given these notes to play for a reason. I have been given these notes to play because they are important, in some way, in the grand scheme of things.
I used to be governed by the belief that I had to *be something,* and that I had to find a way to make a difference to the world. I had to create a legacy.
My preoccupation was with efforting my way toward justifying my value in the world by being exceptional in every way I could fathom.
In a sense, I was trying really hard to not just play my note in the orchestra, but to be the best note in the orchestra.
These days, I’m finding myself turning back to the hand I was dealt. The note I have been asked to play. I am grateful that, over the last ten years or so, I have been given signposts along the way that have steered me toward an overarching sense of what my note sounds like. The universe has said here: have an obsession with writing. Here: fall into a career in birth support and find an unexpected passion and talent for that work. Here: raise an introverted daughter and a flamboyant son. Here: learn that you are quite a good listener, and swerve your way into a coaching career.
The best way I’ve found to play my note is to respond to what I’m being offered, to feel my way into what resonates, where my gifts show up and mostly…
I cultivate and nourish and tend to the person I need to be to play my note in this orchestra
really freakin’ well.
I wrap my fingers around warm, milky cups of tea.
I practice yoga, and meditate.
I give myself space to understand my own mind. I read and soak in knowledge. I journal. I witness myself navigating the world and try to know more deeply what it is to be human. I listen to others. I seek teachers, mentors, and other wise council. I go to bed early. I ask questions. I ask more questions. I try, as often as I can, to feel the ground beneath my feet.
I consider what it is to truly be of service in the world. I consider what I do and know best, and how I can offer that in a way that helps.
In a world that seems increasingly unjust, violent, discriminatory, and painful, I have often wondered if I am doing enough. If maybe I should have become a doctor, as I had spent so many years believing I wanted to, and really Make A Difference. If, perhaps, the world we live in doesn’t need another life coach, or more yoga, or any more retreats. If, perhaps, deepening my own relationship to myself and the universe is unhelpful in times like these, or worse, selfish.
But then I remember: this is the note I’ve been given to play.
And we’ve each been given a note to play. Some of us will be doctors at the front lines of world disaster, to be sure. And some of us will raise children who respect themselves, others, and the earth. Some of us will write stories that change readers’ perspectives. Some of us will become world leaders. Some of us will delight the world with excellent risotto, or exquisite music, or soul-shaking yoga classes.
Being of service in a hurting world begins with listening first to your heart, to knowing its particular rhythm and what it is calling you toward.
It is about finding your note in the orchestra, and playing it really really well. It’s about looking within and knowing yourself more deeply first, so that you can step into what you’re being called to with courage. It’s about tending to your own needs, so that you can meet what life offers you with open arms. It’s about trusting that by doing all of this, you are contributing to the world in exactly the way you were meant to.