When we can play with the unself-conscious concentration of a child, this is: art: prayer: love.

Our six-year-old neighbor brought her violin home today, and we went over to her house so that she could perform a concert for us. (I may or may not have bribed her with banana popsicles. She is kind of shy, is all I will say.) I feel that I know her fairly well – we see them in their yard several times a week, we spent most of the summer at the pool with them, we have baby-sat for them, we often share dinner on their deck in good weather. But as she was playing her violin, I saw a look of concentration on her face that I have never seen before. I realized that I almost always see her smiling – a shy smile, a bright smile, a silly grin. Sometimes she looks serious and unsure. But this focus was something different. She was putting forth her best for us.

I don’t even know if I am capable of that kind of concentration. Mike will probably tell you that I am, that I regularly focus entirely too much on a book. But there was more going on than that – her performance was also about trying to learn something and to better herself. I could not help but think of the struggles I have had lately with running. The weather was bad and I have been taking two classes and I was sick and we have been busy . . . and what all this means is that I have completely plateaued. I have lost all motivation. I don’t know what to do.

Tomorrow I have the day off. In the morning, I am going to get up and put on lots of clothes and a stupid looking hat and go running in the rain to get ready for the race I am running in on Saturday. Because I have a hunch that concentrating that much on something might be pretty good for me.

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