I just finished my first year of my graduate degree. I was really looking forward to starting school in the Fall. I had high hopes and expectations. I was finally getting into the groove of things, and I could see myself prioritizing things I should have been prioritizing this entire year. Then the rug got pulled out from under me and my colleagues when our cello professor shared with us some news.
“We’re leaving Memphis.”
My heart sank. Admittedly, I was not surprised. Too often I have wondered why they stayed as long as they did. Many times this year I stopped to pause and thank God for the opportunity to work with them while I was here in Memphis. I wish I had started sooner. Then came the bitter regret, and the irrational guilt that plagued me with thoughts that I should have known better, I should have started sooner. Where would I be as a cellist, a musician, if I had taken advantage of these opportunities sooner?
My husband implored me not to play that mind game. “You were burned out after undergrad, honey, you needed that break. You always said so.”
It’s true. If I had gone straight from undergrad to grad school, I doubt I would have really taken to heart the teachings that I cherish now. And honestly, I would not change the experiences I had between undergrad and grad school for anything. I met some amazing people and worked some really cool jobs and learned quite a lot about my skills in the process. I ended up with perspective, something sorely lacking in many of my beloved contemporaries who have rarely strayed from the university’s security blanket.
Timing really is everything.
So now my teacher is leaving Memphis. He’s leaving behind a studio of cellists who love and adore him so he can selflessly support his awesome wife, who was offered an amazing job at a prestigious university. He’s modeling the humility we have always seen in him and respected. He is dying to self to lift the ones he loves. What a witness for Christ to his students. I really admire that.
I have learned so much in the past year from my time with my teacher. This semester I really tried to learn his teaching philosophy and internalize it, which makes it so much harder to say goodbye. I truly respect him and his wife, and I am so happy for them.
I can’t help but wonder selfishly how this will affect me. Already I feel my enthusiasm for next year waning. My work ethic should not be dependent on my teacher’s presence. My confidence in my abilities should not come solely from his words of encouragement. But it does, it really does. Where do we go from here?
Do I believe I am really capable of achieving what my teacher sees in me, even without his constant reminders? Do I believe in this vision he has of me as a cellist? Am I really buying it?
That remains to be seen. I wish I had another year with him to find out. I wish I believed him when he said I had it in me to tackle anything. There is so much fear there, I can feel the resistance growing and the doubt blossoming whenever these words reach my ears.
I remember when he first told me I was a good cellist, but I had to learn to be great. I had to learn to really listen. I want to be a great cellist, but not for my own glory. I want to be a great cellist because that is the gift the Lord has entrusted to me. I’m not at all sure where it will lead, but it does appear to be intertwined with my calling.
If I’m perfectly honest with you, it terrifies me. That must make it worth pursuing.
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