A friend sent this photo of Wink this weekend as an update of what she was up to while we were away. Wink was spending the day with him as he worked in his garden, and the photo was of her sitting in the sunshine, with her back against the corner of his house’s foundation. She was leaning a bit, letting the structure behind her serve as a touchpoint for where she was in the world.
It’s been a year this month since Wink went blind, and it’s been a year of learning and challenges. She continues to teach me so much about finding joy in the little things, like how to savor a great day or the thrill of loving those in your life so much you can’t sit still….the list is a long one. But this “leaning in” has me thinking.
Wink has learned this technique of leaning against something as a grounding for her space. It’s easy to forget where you are when you’re blind, and little things like the sound of a water fountain, or my voice, help her. But when you’re out in this big space of the world, having something to lean on provides comfort and a point from which to rest, rely upon, or launch from.
I’ve been leaning on something lately that I haven’t leaned on in quite awhile, but that was so vital during my childhood: music. My love of music, as a driving and motivational force when I listen to it, and as a creative outlet when I play it, is my touchstone in life. It’s driving me as I commit to a cardio workout every day in the gym. I run faster and to the beat when the songs course through my earbuds. It motivates and lifts me. Sometimes I feel like I’m dancing when I’m on the elliptical.
And as a creative outlet, it has returned to my life. It took a hiatus, but it has returned. As a child, I first started taking music lessons at the age of 4, and quickly progressed to piano, and classical lessons until I was 17. I competed, accompanied, and played for audiences. I practiced every day. Mozart’s waltzes moved me to places of emotional freedom and peace. I played tenor saxophone and marched in band. I taught piano as a high school job. But somewhere after that, after college, music as a creative outlet gave way as I explored creativity in my profession, painting, interior design and in the garden.
I’ve recently returned to music as a form of creative expression, and am learning a completely new instrument. I had an emotional moment last week when my teacher told me I was gifted, and a flood of thankfulness rushed over me for all of the time, money and attention my parents gave to my musical gifts as a child. I realized how important music is to me, how quickly I take to it, how it grounds me in my world, and how it is a touchstone for my life. And my blind dog Wink demonstrates this simple act of grounding every time she goes out into the world to have a seat in the sun: Find your place in the sunshine, ground yourself, and enjoy life. What a lovely lesson.
P.S. If you’re lucky I’ll upload later this week a tune I’m playing on my new instrument. Here’s a hint: