What if we approach each day as praxis - in which we make intentional choices, repeatedly with the goal of getting closer to making our life a work of art?
Both of my kids have been playing the violin from age five, and since they are learning via the Suzuki method, I read about Suzuki’s method in his book: Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education
In his book, Suzuki makes the argument that every child can learn to play the violin if they practice. And while learning to play the violin is indeed wonderful in and of itself, Suzuki further claims that the practice of learning actually leads to developing beautiful human beings. My kids were taught by their teachers that practicing the violin is not something you have to do, but it is something that you get to do. Also that in learning to play the violin, you learn how you learn. Each person learns differently and at their own pace. Within the Suzuki method, you must keep going, however slowly, with the intention of improving - even at smallest intervals and most definitely after repeated trials and failures.
“To make a resolution and act accordingly is to live with hope. There may be difficulties and hardships, but not disappointment or despair if you follow the path steadily. Do not hurry. This is a fundamental rule. If you hurry and collapse or tumble down, nothing is achieved. DO not rest in your efforts; this is another fundamental rule. Without stopping, without haste, carefully taking a step at a time forward will surely get you there.”
― Shinichi Suzuki, Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education
I find so much hope and solace in knowing that being careful and intentional is the best course. Nothing happens overnight - even when it seems like it does for others. We don’t lose weight or learn a new language quickly. We can’t sew a quilt or write a book overnight, but we can choose a life of praxis in which we are thoughtful in how we carve out time to do the things that we really want to do.
We make time to intentionally journal, meditate, cook a delicious meal, walk our dogs, breathe, or sketch. Doing these things everyday - or most days- becomes the rock we roll up the hill. When we concentrate on doing them and reflect on them afterwards, we begin to notice how we are changed by our actions. We become better at drawing, running, or cooking, or maybe we notice how much we have learned about our dogs after dozens of dozens of walks. These seemingly small practices are actually sacred moments brought to us by sacred choices. You don’t have to practice, you get to.
I know this method of Mr. Suzuki works because I get to listen to my kids play their violins every day. I hear how they have developed, how they know books and books of songs like the backs of their hands, and while sometimes they drag their feet to practice ( it can still feel like have to), once the violin is in position and they begin to move the bow across the strings, they sound like I get to. Maybe they also know something of the commitment and intention that they have practiced these years can be applied to anything new that they want to make part of their lives. If they don’t know that now, I am hoping they will be able to understand that when they are olds. For now, I am certain that there bodies sure know it. Their fingers, their chins, their breath, and their wrists know praxis well.
When we choose to look at our life as a practice and each day as an opportunity to try again, we continue to grow and evolve as humans. Now if this same praxis is applied to practicing our creativity - to infusing each day with practicing - pushing - evolving our creative selves - of continuing when we are stuck, what would be possible for us?
What do you practice? What would you like to begin learning or incorporate into your praxis of life?
PS I encourage anyone interested in educational philosophy to get their hands on Nurtured by Love. It will be life changing. I am definitely planning on reading it again and again!
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.