It is not that this practice offers the right choice or the only choice.We may want to make sure the intoxicated driver gets his due.We may want sympathy, and we may want revenge.However, choosing the being the board approach opens the possibility of a graceful journey, one that quickly reinstates us on the path we chose before the fateful collision intervened.It allows us to keep on track.Grace comes from owning the risks we take in a world by and large immune to our control.If you build your house on a floodplain of the Mississippi River, you may be devastated when the waters overflow, and you may rail at the river.However, when you declare yourself an unwilling victim of a known risk, you have postured yourself as a poor loser in a game you chose to play.Perhaps to gain other people’s sympathy, you will have traded your own peace of mind.In the legal sphere, fault and blame play an important role.But we are talking about access to possibility, not to victory or remuneration.Gracing yourself with responsibility for everything that happens in your life leaves your spirit whole, and leaves you free to choose again.Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony starts off as though the music is making a joyful sprint toward a double handspring that catapults it to the high trapeze.Mendelssohn gives the winds eleven quick steps before the violins make their first energetic somersault, but in one concert, while I was pointing to the winds, a single violinist came in with exuberance and gusto after just five steps!It was the kind of confident violin playing you can’t help admiring, but it left us out there in space, no trapeze within our grasp.For the first time in my conducting career, I stopped a performance—in front of more than a thousand people.I smiled to the orchestra, said to myself, How fascinating! and began the piece again.This time, of course, there was no mishap.Afterward, someone associated with the orchestra asked me in a hushed voice, Would you like to know who came in early in the Mendelssohn? Whether it was the slightly conspiratorial nature of the question that put me off, or whether it was that such a question was in disturbing contrast with the spiritedness of the music that we had just performed, I found myself saying, No abruptly, and then adding, I did it.
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