Elul 11



Oh, my favourite! I like counting. I like counting a lot. I used to count people I passed on the street, at one point in my life – got to over 16, 000 before I stopped. I have better uses of my time now – meditation and prayer, for example – but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t soothing. It’s a way of simplifying my world. Dealing with the complexities is mind-bogglingly hard for me some days. Really, the world is complicated, as anyone who has tried to master a new skill knows. There are so many things to learn and master – so many aspects. For instance, I started learning piano again this year.

There’s the way I sit to think about, the way I hold my hands, the notes I play, the tempo, how loud or quietly I play them, coordinating two different hands and possibly a foot for songs that I use a pedal for, whether the notes are hit gently or sharply, whether the notes are connected, or played at the same time (because each finger could be doing a different thing,) whether I smile or not, more or less emotion, do I like the tune, and so on. By now, I’ve completely forgotten about the way I sit, and I have no idea if I’m holding my hands correctly.

So, it’s nice to simplify. One, two, three – I can manage that. I use it to reduce the mess to simple, understandable tasks. I memorize my piece. Now, the notes aren’t an issue. I play a second time with the metronome. I’m just focusing on the tempo. Third time through, and I focus on the mood and the volume. Numbers make it less hard, break down the task into small countable, manageable steps. So, we have a 16-step list in the bathroom on how to use a potty. There’s no need to have hard tasks made more difficult. Counting helps.

The only danger is that when one counts, one loses aspects. People are more complex than numbers, the world is a complicated place, and while the numbers can give one a way of handling things simply, they can also build a false façade that hides reality. I may need to play my piece considerably more than three times. Maybe I need to play a particular section. Maybe I need to not play the piece at all for a day or two to let what I’ve learned settle in. I need to be careful to remember when I count that my numbers stand for something bigger, something outside that clear simple “Vun, vun bee-utiful letter, performance, student, or whatever it is – Ha-ha-ha!” (a la Sesame street, where – you guessed it – my favourite character was the Count.)

Basically, (and yes, I admit it, I like puns) I just need to remember that everyone – and everything – counts.


Posted on September 8, 2014, in Elul and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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