He was back again today. When he said, “I hope you’re doing well”, I think he meant, “I hope your doctor got the meds straightened out.” Stradivarius violin discussion, Part 2. This time with new evidence. Really irrefutable evidence. Three knockout punches!
1) “My Dad says it’s real, because he’s read the label.” Even the following quote from the Smithsonian didn’t make much of a dent “Therefore, the presence of a Stradivarius label in a violin has no bearing on whether the instrument is a genuine work of Stradivari himself.” Dad said it! Who is this Smithsonian organization anyway?
2) “My Grandpa found it in an attic around 1900.” Me: “Stradivari built his violins in the late 1600’s and the early 1700’s. Thousands upon thousands of fakes had already been made in the intervening 200 years.” Still no help…
3) “It has a real wood case and only the genuine Stradivarius violins had that case.” Now, the fact that I could show him that eBay has these things available at $20 was helpful here...But still he was not convinced.
As he left, muttering that Grandpa and Dad both couldn’t be mistaken, and promising to get the violin to an appraiser to prove me wrong, it struck me…We all do that! In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we believe what we want to believe. Hey! As I write this in the wee hours of the morning, not two miles away from me there are Don Quixotes throwing chips at the roulette wheels at the casino, knowing that it’s a fool’s game, but believing that this time, it will be different for them. (“To dream, the impossible dream…” Sung in the key of B-flat busted…)
“Statistics! Phtooey! Who needs ’em? I’ve got a feeling that tonight’s the night! Besides that, Jack’s cousin’s girlfriend’s brother won $10,000 out here a week ago (or was it a year?). I’ll win for sure!”
We laugh, both at the Stradivarius guy and the Casino guy, but I’m convinced that we all need a little of that. No, I’m not saying that we should live our lives based on the ridiculous falsehoods of easy money and hidden treasure. What I am saying is that hopes and dreams are amazing motivators and, kept in perspective, goad us on to do things we might never attempt otherwise. “Hope springs eternal in the human breast…” is not just the first line of an old, dead piece of prose, but it’s true. We always hope for better, always believe that we can do more, and always reach for the future. (And yes, I know there are times when the flame of hope dies down, but that’s a discussion for another time.)
Twenty-five years ago this month, I sat in the living room at the late Dr. Marc Gilbert’s house, having gone to him for advice about leaving the steady job I had (and really wasn’t fond of) and buying a faltering music store in the small town in which I live. Dr. Gilbert advised strongly against it. “The numbers just aren’t there. You’ll be much better off staying where you are.” But he, wise man that he was, also inquired, “You really want to do this, don’t you?” Boy, did I ever! The early years I had spent in music and the few years previous when I had worked in this very store were all I needed to know that this was it! This was what I was made for! Not a huge aspiration, as aspirations go, but it was mine! And he, listening to me talk, knew a dream when he heard it and simply said, “Well you already know it won’t make you rich. But it looks like it will make you happy.” Yep! Right on both counts, Dr. Gilbert! But still loving it and thankful to the Lord for making it possible.
“There’s a time I can recall
Four years old and three feet tall
Trying to touch the stars and the cookie jar
And both were out of reach…” (from “Reaching” by Carolyn Arends)
“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a Heaven for?” (Robert Browning)
Aim higher! Whether it’s cookies or stars you’re reaching for, you can’t get to them standing flat-footed in one place. Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just stand there.
Keep hoping! It’s even okay to look for the Stradivarius violin, but honestly, unless it’s just for entertainment, the casino’s not gonna work out.