Thanks to the wonders of the internet and the generosity of strangers -- and a whirlwind drive to Williamsburg and back -- I arrived at a friend's house on Sunday evening and gleefully unpacked an addition to my menagerie of musical instruments: a shiny, new-to-me mandolin. I picked it up, held it close, and strummed.
Woah! ...I immediately cringed and stilled the strings.
It was pretty obvious that this little beauty had been waiting for action for some time. (Translation: It hadn't been tuned in forever and sounded it horrid.) So I pulled out my tuner and started tightening.
And tightening and tightening.
The strings weren't hanging loose, but they certainly had a ways to go to be in tune. And for the lower strings, I wasn't too worried. But as I got to the highest pair, I wasn't feeling very confident.
"Please don't break." I kept saying out loud. "Please don't break."
But even though I knew I was asking a lot from these little strings, I kept on tightening. I was just so excited about playing my new mandolin for the first time.
I knew I should have let it rest. Those high notes require a lot of tension. And that's a lot of change to ask from a tiny string in one big push.
I knew better. But I was impatient and tried to do it all at once.
There's a lesson in there somewhere. About being out of tune and being tightened and needing to rest along the way. Especially in the "higher things" and in the areas that have been out of action for some time.
Because if I expect immediate perfection and try to go all the way in one go, there's a real risk of ending up broken in the process. (Not permanently broken. But set back just the same.)