The enemy of generosity
...is selfishness. We can't do work that matters, be creative, and inspiring, if we always worry about the return on investment.
The opposite is also true. The enemy of selfishness is generosity. We can't be scared, bullied, and powerless, if we say "Here, this is my idea. Take it. Do whatever you want with it. I'll have another one in an hour."
All it takes is to hit that "Publish" button.
The magic of rain
First, if the earth is too dried out, the drops won't sink in. It rains, but the life on the ground can't be refreshed. Yet.
For some creatures the rain has come too late. After a long season of drought, they vanished in the heat.
But the drops continue to fall and soon there comes a tipping point - the earth gives in and the life starts to be replenished.
If you are wondering why your efforts don't produce the results that you seek, maybe it's because they can't be seen yet (like these drops which wouldn't sink in). But they are necessary for the tipping point to occur.
That's why daily blogs are so powerful - small amounts of words worth saying over time sink in and begin the change in the minds of people who want to be changed.
You can start yours today.
BWV 622 Practice Guide
Why do we freeze?
Because we've been told we're not good enough.
Because we think we have no choice.
Because fitting in seems safer than standing out.
Because doing something incorrectly feels riskier than not doing anything at all.
Because taking action would mean we're on our own.
Because following the rules gives us deniability.
Because an hour of television a day seems better than an hour of fruitful failure a day.
It doesn't have to be this way. Get off this train of settling.
...empowers people, enhances their humanity, and inspires them to become bigger than themselves.
Asking for credit shows others that we don't care about them, that we are short-sighted and afraid.
Saying "thank you for allowing me to be a part of this" is better than asking "what's in it for me?"
PS For people who liked my BWV 630 Practice Guide, the new BWV 622 Practice Guide is a perfect piece to master this Lent - "O, Mensch, bewein dein Sunde gross" from Orgelbuchlein by J.S. Bach.
The point of no return
When a plane flies to its destination which is thousands of miles away, at some point the pilot reaches a spot in the journey when there would not be enough fuel left to turn around and go back to the original place. The only way out is forward or to some other in between target. It's pretty scary, isn't it?
Likewise, if we embark on a mission to pursue our calling in life, we may come to realize that there is no coming back to our old way of living. Even if we fail to fulfill our calling and try to live like nothing happened, we will always carry this sense of unrealized potential with us. This feeling may become so difficult to bear that after many years of trials and errors we will resolve to do the thing we were put on this earth for, however scary it might be.
In fact, the scarier it feels, the more we are drawn to it and the more we can be sure that it's our true calling and not some shiny object which our inner dragons send to distract us.
"I don't know how"
When we use this excuse not to try to do things that we would love to be remembered for, it's because of this sinking feeling at the pit of our stomachs of having admit to ourselves that we don't have what it takes: "See, I told you."
Then all our fears, all the expectations of the society come true, and we are back to square one, to this seemingly endless circle of unrealized potential and stolen dreams.
But we can get out of this circle by saying "let's go make more mistakes".
If you are creating something worth talking about, chances are you are not receiving the amount of positive feedback you think you deserve. On the contrary, the interactions which come to you from the people around you, might often appear in the form of criticism.
Criticism is not always bad. Sometimes people care so much about what it is you are offering them that they point out not only things that are working but also the things that are not.
It takes a lot of guts to stand up and say "you can do better than this" or "this is broken" but when you hear this sometimes, instead of taking a defensive stance and yelling "I had no choice" or "it's your fault you don't get it", maybe it's worth responding with "thank you for giving me a second chance."
And then the miracle might happen when a previously angry person will answer "thank you for letting me give you a second chance."
All feedback can be a positive feedback, if we want to.
What to do when you're in panic
Have you ever parked a car and felt a sudden rush of fear that you will break your neighbor's vehicle? This panic attack can be so powerful that you can freeze behind the wheel, mix the pedals, and even drive into a building that's close by.
It turns out there's a simple fix to this situation - just go the opposite direction a little bit (until you'll see which way you should go).
Go the opposite direction. The same can be done in organ improvisation when you feel stuck and not sure where to turn. Simply back up. This trick will be a nice turning point which will immediately result in a fresh idea of what to do next.
If in doubt, do the opposite of what your inner dragons are saying.
PS Attention to all Total Organist members: My new BWV 630 Practice Guide is included into the Total Organist program, so subscribers of all levels of memberships receive it at no additional cost. This Practice Guide is designed so that you won't have any feeling of panic or being lost while practicing but instead firmly progress in a step-by-step manner like moving on the train tracks and inevitably reaching your goal of mastering this piece.
When somebody around you starts spreading gossips about a person or an event, the most constructive way to handle them is to talk about ideas behind the object of the gossip.
This can be done by asking "why" relentlessly.
Why are our neighbors fighting?
Why is he so successful?
Why doesn't she trust me?
This way it's no longer a gossip - it's a debate of ideas, a culture - food for the brain.
"No problem, I'll bake some more"
That's often a symptom that our inner dragons have forced us to choose a response and a task that we know will work, is safe, and will not cause any rejection.
It's so much easier that to say: "My mission feels scary as hell but I'm going to do it anyway."
Owning this sentence would change everything, wouldn't it?
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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