As if yesterday's Winter Fair wasn't enough excitement for one day, we also went to see my OTL play in his first band concert in 30 years.
It was a little loud.
Watching his band, Advanced Band II, and the other bands, which we could charitably lump under the category Not Very Advanced Bands, made me ponder about the ideal of perfection. While it would surely have been satisfying to watch and listen to a set of perfectly in tune bands with metronomic timing, I would never have recognised the exchange of gifts that occurs at such an event.
As a typical end-of-year concert for amateur musicians it was standard fare. Friends and family gathered together to witness the fruits of months of musical labour--learning new music, learning to play it together (ish), and learning how to perform it. As my OTL said, it was a bit like playing all the pieces you'd learned but with your hair on fire.
While I sat there watching Advanced Band I (the second best band of the five playing, and the one just before my OTL's came on and blasted us off our seats with Carmina Burana), I was suddenly teary. Teary for it all. For there, up on stage, behind a row of festively placed potted poinsettia, were people giving it a Red Hot Go. Not one among them was perfect--not in the formal dress they had found to wear, not in their counting the beats in every bar (those testy flutes, always wanting to start first), and definitely not always in the notes that they played--but, nevertheless, there was something beautiful there.
It reminded me that sometimes it is better to give points for simply trying than it is to hope for perfection. And that is what the audience did, in standing ovation after standing ovation. This, I thought, was what it was all about. Giving the gift of trying your hardest to make a thing work, and the returned gift of enthusiastic applause that says "Good. For. You." It was all I could do not to rise and shout, as one might in Australia, "Good onya, mates!"