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Fear Less
by Lily (bushisanassface)
at August 30th, 2008 (09:42 pm)

This is something that I just wrote, and that I would greatly appreciate any thoughts/feedback on. Thank you.

Years ago, I was out to dinner with my dads one night after swim team practice (I must have been in third or forth grade,) and I saw one of those “Go Card” postcard advertisements that are often set out in cases at the doors to different businesses that caught my eye. The card read FEAR LESS in bold pink block letters. The slogan struck me and so I grabbed the card, and even today it’s obtrusive letters still pronounce their assertion from a place on one of the walls of my room.

When I heard about the international cello festival in Israel this past fall, I knew instantly that it was something I wanted to do. It would be an amazing opportunity, both to improve upon my cello playing abilities and to see a part of the world I’d never seen before. It was a chance to experience something I hadn’t experienced, to work on being able to understand and appreciate different people, ideas, cultures. For me, understanding new things is to fear less of the world, and this was an exceptional and unparalleled chance to do it. Although the idea of the trip was scary for me for numerous reasons, all were shades and variations of my fear of something I did not know or understand, and a fear I wanted to work on erasing.

Before setting off, I had a picture of the country engrained in my mind, built from images from the news and from documentaries I had seen, ideas from conversations I had overheard: a picture of a place war-torn and barren and unsafe and full of anger; a very muddled and superficial representation of a country. I wouldn’t have said so out loud, but I struggled to honestly and truly understand why a person would want to live there. I didn't have a clear idea in my head of what it would be like to be there, and that petrified me. However, for a while the week lay way in the future, unreal, and safely out of the present. But then before I knew it, I was sitting, stiff and restless, on the plane, flying into my unknown, and flying there all alone. It was a terrifying and yet exhilarating feeling.

I had a terrible first day. After arriving at the kibbutz, there was nothing and no one to tell me where to go. Everyone knew each other, and everyone knew what to do. And I didn’t speak their language. I cursed myself for coming. Feeling upset and alone, I spent the evening walking aimlessly down foreign roads void of anything familiar, smoking a pack of cigarettes. The only living creature I passed was a camel.

But that night, I met my roommates, and little by little I got to make friends. One night, William and Tal and I lay on a grassy area in the kibbutz for hours in the darkness, drinking from a bottle of wine as Tal rolled drum. Tal and William spoke about Israel, in ways I had never heard it spoken about before. Hearing about Israel from home, its always in terms of politics and wars, but here it was about a community, Tal and William engaging in a good natured argument about whether Jerusalem or Tel Aviv was the superior place to be. Conversation moved on and we talked about life, exchanged secrets, told each other about our hopes for our futures. Although the night now seems almost like a dream, blurred by its unreal simplicity and perfection, I remember so clearly the moment when, seeing Tal so certain that music was where her life would take her, I thought of it for the first time as a conceivable possibility for me too.

Over the next few days, I had some amazing cello lessons. The input and compliments I was receiving from my teachers was showing me that if I put in the effort and the discipline and the practice, I could make something of my music. I had a chance to see exactly what it was I needed to do in order to get good (which was to practice), and I realized I wanted to concentrate on doing that, because music is and always has been the constant importance in my life. Seeing the masters, like Janos Starker and Larry Lesser, giving masterclasses was very moving and meaningful, and seeing the kids who were much further along than me was even more inspiring and amazing. I had always been afraid of committing my all to music because I was afraid I wasn’t good enough afraid of immersing myself in it and putting my all into it. It was the first time that the idea of music as a profession really seemed conceivable, the first time it stopped being a dream and became somewhat of a real idea for the future. Not yet a given, but something more than a fantasy: a real possibility.

The week I spent in Israel was life-altering for me. I don’t claim to understand Israel; to understand the conflict or to understand what it is to live there. But I do know that after my trip, I fear it a little bit less. I also don’t know where my life will take me, or what I’ll be interested in in the future, or what profession I’ll settle into, but I have become a little less afraid of trying music. I think I’m just the tinyest bit closer to being completely fearless.