There are times in all our lives when we feel alone and discouraged. There are days when we question whether anyone understands or cares – when we can’t remember the melody or find the will to sing it. At times like these I believe it helps to join in the strength of those around us.
I play second violin in an orchestra. The other members of the group who play in that section sit in front, behind and on both sides of me. When I lose my place in the music I listen carefully to the musician next to me while I scan the notes on the page to locate where we are in the score. Before long I can jump back in and start playing again. The player next to me can’t stop playing to instruct me without losing their place. So when they can tell I’m lost, they will whisper the number of the measure we’re on.
We can’t always solve the problems of others but we can listen carefully so we are aware when someone around us has lost their place. We can learn to be more in tune with the needs of those around us and we never know what positive influence we have. For example, one day after I’d given a talk at BYU Education week, a woman approached me and said, “You don’t know me but when I was a teenager I read something you wrote that helped me more than you’ll ever know. I was going through some awful things and had decided to end it all. Then I read the article you wrote in the New Era called ‘Holding On’. So I did. Those words literally saved my life.”
Though we are often unaware, those around us are starved for attention and compassion. We can’t always stop our life and rush to save them; but we can in effect whisper the number of the measure we’re on by offering a kind smile or a gentle word of appreciation, affection or encouragement. Before long, they will be able to find their place in the music and start playing again. A symphony simply does not have the same power without every instrument playing their part.
When our orchestra is playing disjointed and out of tune during rehearsals, our conductor will make us stop, memorize a few bars and then ask us to close our eyes and play the music without looking. He will further instruct us to listen to those next to us and also across the orchestra so we can hear how our part fits into the whole. It is amazing how much better we all sound when we do that. When we are focused only on our part and our eyes are glued to the sheet of music in front of us we are too concerned with self – unable to play the notes together as beautifully as we could.
If we want to get in tune with those around us we have to occasionally get our minds off ourselves long enough to truly listen. Then we will notice subtle expressions of need and hear the silent cries of those across the way. When all of us listen this way, we can play the score of life with infinitely more harmony and grace.
So, at those times when we feel abandoned, we need to glace around us. We are not alone; we are surrounded by caring people. When we are lost, they will help us find our place in the score and when they are lost we will help them. If we listen carefully with our hearts and glance up to the master maestro, the melody is never far away. There is love all around and inside us. All we have to do is listen.