Looking up the source of the story about Yitzhak Perlman, I found it came from a piece by Margaret Wheatley called “Eight Fearless Questions.”
Quoting Perlman: “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”
Sometimes, it is our task to find out how much music we can make with what we have left. What is the name that is big enough to hold your fearlessness, that is big enough to call you into fearlessness? That is big enough to break your heart? To allow you to open to the suffering that is this world right now and to not become immobilized by fear and to not become immobilized by comfort? What is the way in which you can hold your work so that you do feel free from hope…. and therefore free from fear?
Before that she says:
Can we find a way to be motivated, to be energetic, to be happy; to take delight in the work that we’re doing that isn’t based on outcomes, that isn’t based on needing to see a particular result? Is that even available?
What if we could offer our work as a gift so lightly, and with so much love, that that’s really the source of fearlessness? We don’t need it to be accepted in any one way. We don’t need it to create any certain outcome. We don’t need it to be any one thing. It is in the way we offer it, that the work transforms us. It is in the way we offer our work as a gift to those we love, to those we care about, to the issues we care about. It is in the way we offer the work that we find fearlessness. Beyond hope and fear, I think, is the possibility of love.
What would it take for us to just deal with what is? To not need to be always engaged in changing the world?
“To offer our work as a gift” — this is how I teach circle dance. It’s why I’m not concerned with how I look, or how well I teach, but only in offering something I love in a way that others can enjoy it.
“To not need to be always engaged in changing the world” — for me that means giving up the need to “prove that I deserve to live.” By the way, when I teach dance, the question of whether I deserve to live just disappears.