Got a letter from a young friend of mine today who is in music school.

        First of all, to receive a handwritten letter from anyone is an anomaly in today’s world. Second, it was four pages and handwritten. Third, it contained no mention of Pokémon. And here’s the kicker.

        My friend is a teenager who is devoted to music. Being at a new school, I wrote to my friend to offer up words of encouragement and probably sub-consciously to stroke my own ego a bit by imparting whatever wisdom I often pretend to possess.

        In striking detail, which only an un-adulterated young mind free of pretense and clutter can possess, they described to me their first symphony there and the thrill of being chosen as one of the leaders of their section in the orchestra. No bragging, just obvious pride over being selected to an esteemed position from a talented pool of much older musicians.

        Then for the second symphony this friend of mine gets put in last position for their section of the new orchestra. Here is what they had to say about that.


        “In my new orchestra I’ve been placed in the very last chair. Yes, I was upset at first. I didn’t understand how I could be placed in the very back of the section. I was bitter about it for a while, but then I realized something.

        How could I get better if there was no one higher than me?

        I mean, if I was first chair, sure it would be fantastic, but I would have no one to look up to here, therefore not learning as much as I would like to at this school. So since I’m not the greatest here, I really know that I am at the best possible place to learn and grow and eventually be a super good concert master elsewhere.

        So now I am very okay with being last chair, because in some ways I am learning way more than every person ahead of me.”


        Okay. So in one letter this teenager showed me sometimes I have a real shitty attitude and I don’t write that well after all. However, my salvation is in the earnest struggle to keep an open mind and my ability to learn which indeed go hand in hand.

        Thank you my young friend for teaching me that being ‘Last chair’ is not always a bad place to be…as long as I have someone like you ahead of me.



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