Suddenly, I was looking into the steaming-mad eyes of the conductor and confused by the flaming darts of rage coming my way. In a split second, I immediately understood—I missed a major cue for my piano solo. My lapse in concentration put the actors off their game and the musicians had to quickly regroup to accommodate my error. By will and a rush of adrenaline, I refocused my attention and began to play as my stomach whirred with panic. This mistake would be the end of my career as a professional pianist. I’d be blackballed for life. This was bad.
The show contained a lot of dialogue with long stretches of time when the orchestra was silent. After doing 100 plus shows, it becomes incredibly boring and mind numbing to sit and listen to the same lines day after day. It is mentally uncomfortable and seasoned musicians learn how to manage the pain. Some read books, write, or even pay bills, but to to be one of the “cool kids”, you had to stay tuned to what was happening on stage and be ready to jump in—on time.
This fateful day when I missed my cue, I had completely lost my endurance to sit still and wait. I had checked out with a book and didn’t even realize that I was no longer aware. Thankfully, I was neither fired nor blackballed from the theater, but I said a lot apologies and did other penance to the actors and my fellow musicians alike.
This experience reminds me about those times when life brings more serious situations that demand endurance. Like when we are left hanging in the balance waiting for a diagnosis, treading through grief and loss, bearing prolonged illnesses, rebuilding broken relationships, accepting disappoint in all its forms.
Endurance asks us to live in the unknown, to find a seat next to the uncomfortable and wait. Endurance is staying the course of what life doles out without disintegrating into worry, fear, or unhealthy distraction.
Endurance is a practice.
Part of that practice is finding a reason to hold still and bear with. To identify a seed of meaning that we can focus on as we slowly plod through the dailiness of life. It is about seeing the shadow of hope glimmering at the end of long paths of frustration, grief, loss, and uncertainty. Endurance is about keeping your heart fixed on what is to come while staying present with the moment you are in. Endurance can mean naming and rehearsing the outcome without wishing away the road of presence that perseverance requires.
Hope and endurance are a strange paradox; to stand your ground in what is happening while hoping. Perhaps another name for this practice is faith. Believing that we each are equipped to hold focus when we are tired, bored, angry, in anguish, or lonely. Holding on to the knowledge that no single experience is permanent and there is always—always— another side to the difficulties we live through.
When you find yourself in the middle of hardship that feels to heavy to bear, go gently with yourself. Practice listening to what you need each moment as you wait—as you endure, and know that there is always hope to see you through to the other side.
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We can help. The Center of Vitality and Balance offers many paths to find expression and encouragement when life calls you to endure. We offer therapy to find your voice, deepen meditation practices and create meaning while you heal, grow and become.