“Non puoi insegnare niente a un uomo.
Puoi solo aiutarlo a scoprire ciò che ha dentro di sé.”
(“You cannot teach a man anything,
you can only help him to discover it within himself.”)
~ Galileo Galilei
September: Back to School
Ah… I love September. Remember the excitement of getting ready to go back to school? New school clothes, new crayons, a new school bag, new books, a new supply of your favourite pens and the fun of sharpening that whole box of brand new pencils? I loved returning to school every autumn, so much so that, even though it’s been many years since I finished my formal schooling, I still get a strong desire every September to join the throngs of young and eager minds heading off to a campus somewhere. The smell of cracking open a brand new book is my favourite September scent and setting the point of a newly sharpened pencil to the first clean page of a new notebook still gives me a secret thrill. While today’s students are much more likely to be excited about a new iPad or laptop than they are about their new pens and pencils, just the same, I feel their anticipation and I enjoy tapping into the heightened energy that fills the air this time of year.
I took up the violin when I turned 33. To this day, I’m not sure what possessed me. One day, the idea just popped into my head—it didn’t matter how old I was, I could learn the violin if I wanted to. A week later, I owned a good quality used violin, a lovingly worn second-hand violin case, an inexpensive bow, a small cake of amber rosin and the phone number of a violin teacher who accepted adult students (apparently, there’s a special knack to teaching violin to the less pliable adult mind).
I’d wanted to play the violin since I fell in love with fiddle music in my early twenties. But I scoffed at the thought of picking it up back then, pinned down by my own limiting belief that it was an instrument one could only learn in childhood. But, for some unknown reason that day, the powerful thought, an epiphany, really—that it’s never too late to learn—struck a deep chord in me and kept resonating until I finally acted on it. I had no goal in mind other than to play the violin simply for the joy of learning and, possibly, hopefully, one day, to be able to play well enough to strike up a few fiddle tunes as my partner strummed his guitar. I reasoned that if I only practiced fifteen minutes every day, in time I’d be somewhere—I didn’t know where exactly, but no matter how bad I was, in five or ten years I’d be someplace farther up the road. Since I was starting from point zero, there was no way I couldn’t improve.