You know how sometimes you hear a phrase, even an offhand comment, and it gets you thinking? This happened to me yesterday when I was attending an introductory talk for aspiring theater majors (and their parents) at Boston University.
The speaker was encouraging the students, if they were lucky enough to be accepted into the program, to take advantage of all the multiple opportunities available at BU to develop their instrument. He went on to list opportunities ranging from vocal lessons to weight training, from Zumba to Zen meditation and more.
I was enthralled by this concept of “your instrument". Because what he meant was yourself, all of you: body, mind, feelings, spirit.
The drummer has a drum, the guitarist a guitar, the trumpeter a horn. These are instruments, as we know them. More subtly and personally, the vocalist has the voice, the dancer, limbs and muscles, to flex and strengthen. But an actor uses his or her whole person and psyche—physical body and vocal expression, intellect, emotions, experience and feelings—to portray a character. An actor’s entire being is his or her instrument.
And not just actors, I think.
Are we not all our own instruments, playing the song of our sweet life, brief and precious? And if so, how in tune are we? How well cared for, exquisitely fed, freshly oiled or strung, moved and exercised, touched and loved, aligned with Spirit? What do we do every day to develop our instrument? Or to weaken it? And as a result, what kind of music do we share with the world?
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace…
So begins the famous poem attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. This idea of being an instrument is not new. Nor will it ever grow old.
Where there is hatred let me sow love...
Where there is doubt, faith...
Where there is darkness, light...
…grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Something must die for you to live. Give thanks to the apple, the carrot, the cow. Life feeding life is the message of Eat to Evolve. And whatever it is that makes you radiate and shine, give it to yourself right now! Nurture your instrument, love your body, feed your soul... and the whole world will shine a little brighter, for you, and for us all.