You Cannot Tune an Oboe

There are times in life when you are just bopping along, not thinking of anything in particular, when something happens that makes the world go fuzzy and freeze solid. It’s a lightning bolt from the universe, a big “Hallooo!” from upon high, a breeze from the breath from the collective consciousness.

“You cannot tune an oboe.”

I was at the Symphony with a dear friend who was kind enough to treat me to a lovely dinner and concert, and as the orchestra was tuning up, she turned to me and said those words.

The first chair violin strikes an A on the piano, then the oboe sings out and the rest of the orchestra tunes to the oboe. Although technically you *can* tune an oboe it is the hardest instrument to tune outside of the piano or the harp. Those can be tuned well in advance and usually stay in key as long as they aren’t moved after tuning. But regarding the oboe, since tuning it is difficult, the orchestra simply tunes up to its note so that they sound harmonious during play. What an elegant solution of adapting to a challenging circumstance, isn’t it?

One hardly thinks of the oboe as a critical instrument in an orchestra, and I say that with the utmost respect to that fine instrument, but an orchestra is an assembly, a true team, and therefore the orchestra tunes to its most inflexible member to protect the overall quality of its sound.

This little fact or practice or orchestral legend drilled into my head like a fat raindrop into the surface of a still pool. Layers and ripples of thoughts undulated through my mind as the music began and swelled and ebbed and flowed throughout the evening.

Why do I fight against doing the natural thing? Why can’t I accept that I have limitations or that things happened to me that I cannot change or that things may never be exactly the way I want? Why don’t I just tune my orchestra to my oboe and just keep playing life’s beautiful song, in key and with ease?

And then I took a huge breath. And then let it out.

Instead of struggling against the stream of life like a salmon determined to return to the spawning ground of its youth I should quite literally *go with the flow*. Once I had learned this lesson while surfing. Out on the water you listen to the water, you wait for the right wave, paddle out hard and then let the water take you. If it’s the right wave it is glorious, like flying, but if it is squirrelly or if you timed it wrong you have to take a deep breath, relax and take the wave upside the head and try to remember which way is up after you bit the dust. You pop up like a cork, shake the water out of your head and try again. And, most importantly, it is fun! If it wasn’t the right wave you just duck-dived through it and waited and relaxed. I think I forgot this throughout all the struggles I have gone through.

You can’t force a wave. You can’t tune an oboe in a hurry. You have to go with the flow.

So here I am, going with the flow.


2 responses to “You Cannot Tune an Oboe

  1. Beautifully said. I hope you catch the next wave just right. NAN

  2. Mom in the Mountains

    If you learned this part of life, you sure didn’t learn it from me!!! I never have heard this written so well and I hope I can keep it in mind, always. Never too late?

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