when I played flute, I would labor over runs for days and weeks, always messing something up somewhere. I could never get all the notes, or I would play at the wrong tempo, or the notes didn’t hit the beats exactly right, or my intonation and dynamic and spirit was off base. then one new day, after these days or weeks, I would start fresh and immediately, it would be there. sometimes not perfect, but the missing thing — the notes, the tempo, the convergence between the two; my own cheer — would arrive strongly and without question. and from there, small tweaks, but the central element in place.
I had thought once, that this was a beautiful anomaly of music. that something about the repetition and know-how involved in learning a run was drastically different than learning a topic, an argument, how to speak clearly. but of course, it’s not. all things add.
all things take as component parts practice. you repeat things to yourself over and over again, you strive for the right form of thought, you bend your legs in ways that don’t hurt but remain unpleasant. this is grueling because your mind is blank and confused here; and the persistence of these states makes an irritated cloud of you. you try. you grow frustrated, because you are doing all the requisite things, you are practicing, you are approaching with faith — and nothing. nothing. weeks of nothing.
but nothing is lost. all things add. one day you wake up, and words click in your mind. you say something in the perfect tone of voice. the argument is repeated and it weighs heavy in your heart and light in your head. this moment of settlement is not itself clarity, but the foundation upon which clarity is to be found. it is one step prior to the moment of insight, while being that which brings its first and most necessary formulation. the bedrock of all this is grown and built from nothing. everything ceaseless and pointed nowhere becomes something, and the familiarity of this impossible thing is utterly mysterious. how can it be, that nothing becomes something? that idle, futile speculative wastes lead you somewhere you wanted to be? how can everything be so absorbed forward, how is there no remainder?
if your soul didn’t sing in your ears just now, perhaps we would worry about the remainder. to be consumed and not left alone, makes into completion something that prayed of its own independence. perhaps the warm light on this november sidewalk goes nowhere and exists only and forever for itself;
it cannot because this nowhere goes here and I say it to you now. it was warm air this morning. it was sunny. the light was soft.
all things add. nothing is lost. we are peaceful now, in grounding that bears incandescent seed. I want you to picture robustly rich soil, in deep shades of every brown, nimble to touch and made larger each time you take your finger and rub the parts of it together. there is empty, happy space here because from the nothing that should shrink: growth.
I am enamored more with this foundation than the moments it births; this foundation makes possible and its existence is that for which I am so thankful today.