Hearing the Larger Orchestra

I owe the title (and the inspiration) of this post to Lynn’s comment on John’s Google+ share of a post of mine from a few weeks ago:

I’ve seen many paths of many people in medicine , in emotions and energetically, noticing that when people have reached their limit it is because their ‘field’  has actually become bigger.
Every time.
But they don’t know yet how to access or handle it. ..to meet it and engage as we do with another person.
But this expansion is our own field.
As with many life truths, what the intellect/ego is telling us is diametrically  the opposite of the truth.
What I tell people in my practice is that they have a bigger orchestra (they, as the conductor) but cannot see or guide or even hear the extra instruments yet, and so feel lost and frustrated.

The implication is vast  re: “What possible courses of action are there?”  and  “What’s the right step for me to take?”
Because to a large degree it is already done…. the field got bigger on it’s own…you feel it …..that’s the reason for the discomfort.
It also explains for me a life-long bafflement with teachers who say things like “There is nothing to do.”

Our work is in discovery and negotiation of the field.
It is already ours and already expanded.

That discovery brings relief of pressure and realization that the old glossary and construct no longer applies.
Linear evaluation assessment and criticism and the accompanying terror carry less weight. Humility descends.
Because you now know the field  is already ours and already expanded.

My immediate response, as soon as I read it, was

Thank you for this beautiful comment!  I’m glad that my post resonated with you.

I love the images of the larger field and the bigger orchestra.  As I think about the last two or three years I spent “on the inside” in a conventional teaching role in a fairly traditional school, trying and failing to change the Same Old Same Old from within, I realize that my pain was related to the larger field and bigger orchestra.  As soon as I stepped out into my current role, where (as you so beautifully put it) the old glossary and construct no longer applies, the pain began to subside … and before too long, I actually started to believe that and to live accordingly.

I’m still pondering those images of larger field and bigger orchestra.  Once you’ve experienced either of those, it’s really hard to go back to the small, familiar Same Old Same Old.

The Girl has had that experience this fall.  After her summer in the Governors’ School Orchestra, the high-school orchestra began to seem small and confining.  Learning a new instrument and joining the marching band helped, but she’s also filling in, at least temporarily, with a small local orchestra that desperately needed a violist.  “I want to play that Mozart symphony,” she said … and even though it’s been a busy week, and she hasn’t been feeling her best, she’s looking forward to the upcoming concert.

Once you’ve heard (or played in) the bigger orchestra, it’s hard to go back to the little one.

I think of my own journey over the past several years, and I realize the larger field and bigger orchestra are powerful images for my journey, too.  When I started working on what’s now the Tres Columnae Project idea, I really didn’t see a larger field; I just knew that I was unhappy with the Same Old Same Old, and my students were bitterly (and increasingly) unhappy with The Textbook.  Could we build an alternative together?  And could we make it better than Just Another Textbook?

The larger field was there already, of course, and the bigger orchestra was tuning itself.  But I couldn’t see or hear just yet … and in retrospect, I’m grateful.  If I’d seen the whole journey, I might have held back, feeling afraid or unworthy to begin.  But as it was, I “just” started creating some characters and a story or two.  Before I knew it, the Same Old Same Old walls had started to collapse and the larger field came into view.

“Tell me this is impossible and I’m crazy,” I wrote in an email to a trusted friend or two.  “No, you aren’t crazy,” they said, “and you know you have to do this.”  I guess I could hear a few bigger orchestra instruments tuning by then, but I certainly didn’t know how to direct them.  Then came that odd, inescapable realization: “you need to look at big old houses in smaller towns.”  I’m still looking, all these years later, but if I hadn’t started, I never would have seen the little girl and her mother on that summer afternoon … and I never would have realized that joyful learning communities could make such a difference for so many people.  And I probably wouldn’t be writing these words.  As I look at the clock, I realize I’d probably be sitting at that faculty lunch table with Ms. X and Mr. Y, biting my tongue to avoid Saying Something Ugly as they moaned about “those bad, lazy kids” and “those horrible parents” and “can you believe what They are making Us do now?”

Instead, I find myself in the midst of that larger field, with the bigger orchestra rehearsing a half-familiar, half-unknown tune.  And in a few minutes, I’ll be working with a joyful learning community of young Latin learners hundreds of miles from me physically, but closely connected by the bonds of the meaningful things we are building together.  I wonder what other surprises and insights await on the road ahead!


Published in: on November 14, 2014 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

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