“Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.…” ~ Samuel Butler
I wonder if we thought about that daily, how differently we might behave? If we were playing a violin solo, in public view, while learning to play it as we went along, most of us would be diligent to practice, and try very hard to put on a good performance. But in the game of life we don’t always strive to be our best, we often forget who is watching us as we perform.
When my marriage came to an end, it shocked me. I was devastated and really took it very hard. A marriage ending is much a like a death, and there are stages that you go through just like when losing a loved one. In many ways I think it is harder when it is a divorce, as you have to go on and from the background you are forced to watch the other person move on without you. If they wanted out they are off and living their new life, often before you even know the marriage is over, so their present is often your own future. They are going on, you are still picking up the pieces of your heart trying to figure out how to glue them all back together again and just learn to breathe.
As I moved through the grief stages I thought I did a fair job of handling things considering no one handed me the sheet music to play with the announcement or when we filed the paper work. I was expected to play an unfamiliar symphony with no conductor. In many faiths you cannot get married without going to classes. I think classes in how to get divorced would be a great requirement in order to even file the papers to get things started. Anyway I thought I had done a fair job of handling things. That is until the other evening when I made a comment to my daughter about how ugly my brother’s divorce has gotten and how vindictive and mean I’ve learned his ex-wife-to-be has become. My daughter, wise beyond her 20yrs, looked at me and said “you aren’t one to talk”. That brought me up short. I never saw anything I did as being close to the ugliness I see coming from my sister-in-law. But the more I thought about it the more I could see that my kids were impacted by my solo show, regardless of how well I thought I had played.
I could have fought hard and forced the ex to sell the house, and dragged things through court, but while I made a lot of threats in hurt and anger, I didn’t do that. I did send a good number of mean spirited texts and emails to my ex, often threatening to get a lawyer and fight for all I could get, but I didn’t mean them. I never did get a lawyer, never went after anything, I just acted out in emotional turmoil. But what I didn’t take into account was how much my kids would see and know, or how they’d be affected, as I was playing that violin. There were things I said in front of them, and I’m certain there were things their dad shared that he would have been better not too. It really caused some issues and hurt to my daughter that I was being less than kind. Referring to her daddy as “he who shall not be named”, “Lord Voldemort” and assorted other not so nice nick names really did not do much good, they caused her to withdraw from me to the less hostile environment at her daddy’s. My son is more removed in that until last week he didn’t live at home any longer so he was able to stay fairly neutral. He didn’t over hear either his dad or me talking to others or to one another so he wasn’t impacted like his sister. At times I made no attempt whatsoever to play the music, I was too busy bashing the ex virtually over the head with my violin, it wasn’t a very nice performance.
A very wise man that has been through a number of divorces himself, made the comment to me one day that divorces usually turn into drama fests and fights because of those outside of the marriage. The friends and relatives on both sides feed the fires with comments and opinions that would be better left unsaid. They tend to get one side of the story but not both, form an opinion and then pick up their tuba in an effort to enhance the production, influencing their side to go for it all, etc., embellishing the facts or even telling out and out lies, trying to make one side look bad. In the end, it serves no good purpose but to make a bigger mess of an on stage musical that never should have opened the curtains. And in the end, the outcome is not usually changed at all by the fighting and attacks, the courts have a pretty standard method for how things get divided up and doled out. The only parties that hurt are those hearts caught up in the middle, usually the kids. Even in my late 20’s, as my own parents divorce was taking place, I heard remarks made by friends and family members that had taken my dad’s side. I’ve never forgotten those things, and while it is forgiven, I have no desire to be around those that judged and pushed the drama rather than just staying neutral.
As you play your violin solo of life, keep in mind that others are hearing and watching your performance, and often we are unaware of those in the audience. You usually only get one shot at each piece of music you have to play, make sure that you give it your all in such a way that the critics can give you rave reviews. Oh, and don’t try to play your tuba during someone else’s violin solo, trust me you won’t be doing anything to enhance their performance.