People talk about defining moments as those experiences that set us on a certain path and forever change the course of our lives. I’ve had two such experiences that still affect me on a daily basis and which have combined to become the driving force behind nearly everything I do in life. Here is the first.
When I was eleven and had been learning violin for a year, my grandmother bought me my first decent instrument. She paid $100, which in those days was big bucks to pay for a student violin. (Many people told her her money was wasted as I wasn’t very good at school and had never stuck with anything in my life.)
The next time Oma came to visit us, she asked to hear me play the new violin. My mother opened my book to a song I had learned a few weeks earlier – Going Home – and said Oma would like that one.
I played the song without a hitch (or so I thought) but when I finished and looked over at Oma I saw she was crying.
My first thought was that I’d played so badly, she was crying because she’d wasted her money. But my mother explained that the song had special meaning for Oma (it’s a hymn about going home to heaven) and she was crying not because my playing was bad but because it had moved her.
This was my first experience with the power of music and I can honestly say it changed my life. To discover I could move people to tears or joy just with the sounds I produced was a total revelation, one that thrills me to this day.
In the last twenty years I’ve changed my primary means of expression from music to writing. But the prospect of moving others with words, and the stories I write, thrills me no less than it did with sound.
Next time: Defining moment 2