At the beginning of the month, just a few weeks ago, I participated in the Otsego County Music Educators Association All County Festival in Worcester where my band conductor told a story that has stuck with me ever since.
Early on in his career, four trumpet players auditioned for a solo in one of their pieces and the solo was given to a sophomore over three seniors. There were some who did not support the conductor’s decision, but he decided that the sophomore would still be given the solo and the boy was super excited; he practiced the solo and performed well at the concert. Two weeks after the concert, the boy was hit by a car and killed.
The conductor’s point in telling the story was to remind us that we would never play in a band with the same people again, and to live our lives in the moment. I have spent copious amounts of time since that day thinking on that story and its message, and I feel it is important that this message (and to some extent, this boy’s legacy) be passed on.
As a busy high school student with big aspirations, I spend far too much time worrying about the future, and even more time worrying about past mistakes. I worry that I’m not doing enough to prepare myself for the future, and if things go badly, I worry about the past and whether I took on too much.
But worrying will get you nowhere. The present is all we have; the past and the future are not ours to change or manipulate. We cannot fix something we did wrong yesterday, nor can we prevent something from going wrong tomorrow. We can only do the best we can today. The past and the future are both, essentially, out of our control.
In my opinion, life can be equated to an hourglass. Time is limited, moves past us constantly and quickly, and we spend much of it brooding over things that have already happened.
Think back: how many important moments in your life and the lives of those around you have you missed because you were dwelling on something that already happened? Stop worrying. Don’t dwell on past accomplishments or failures. Open your eyes and look around you.
We live in a fast-paced world, and often that can keep us from truly appreciating every moment. That needs to change.
The trumpet player in my conductor’s story appreciated every second of the solo he was given, and there are many around the world who could likely learn a lot from him. While we should not forget the past, nor should we stop looking forward toward the future, we should not spend every moment thinking about them the way I often do and the way I know others do as well. It isn’t that I shouldn’t think about college. I just shouldn’t spend every waking moment worrying about college. It’s a life lesson I struggle to implement.
If anything, what we can take away from the story of the sophomore trumpet player is that life is fleeting and can be cut short at any time. It is imperative that we enjoy our lives before our time is done. Like the sophomore trumpet player, any one of us could be killed tomorrow, or the next day, or two weeks from now. The question is: will we be present when any of that happens?
I urge you, the reader, to live your life to the fullest extent. After all, it’s the only one you have, and there’s no telling when your hourglass will run out.
Kate Morano is a junior at Morris Central School. Readers can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.